nuclear_explosion Those that lived through the Cold War — myself included — were glad when it ended. Yet the nuclear danger never really went away, just the antagonism between the United States and what is now Russia. Now, slowly, that antagonism is creeping back — and with it, the possibility of nuclear war. Since the end of the Cold War, the world has largely forgotten about nuclear weapons. Yet the United States still has 1,597 nuclear weapons deployed on submarines, aircraft, and missiles, the majority of them pointed at Russia. Russia has 1,582 nuclear weapons deployed — the majority aimed at the United States. Tensions between the United States and Russia are the highest they’ve been in more than 20 years. Differences over Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, intervention on behalf of Syria’s Assad regime, and support for other unpopular, authoritarian governments have pushed the two countries farther apart than they’ve been in decades. That tension has been reflected in recent missile tests on both sides. In early November, Russia staged nuclear war games that saw the the launch of two submarine-launched ballistic missiles, a land-based ICBM, and nuclear-capable air-launched cruise missiles. In late October and early November, the United States Strategic Command — the joint U.S. military command responsible for all things nuclear — tested a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile, two Trident II D-5 submarine launched ballistic missiles, and flew strategic bombers to Spain and the South China Sea. That’s all three legs of the nuclear triad — the force of missiles, submarines, and bombers — that ensures the U.S.

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