"Despite long-standing intelligence monitoring, India's five nuclear tests on land . . . took the world by surprise." So stated the June issue of the magazine Strategic Comments. So much for stability in an uncertain age.
Two Eastern nations—India and Pakistan—rattled the relative peace and well-being of the world with their recent nuclear tests and saber-rattling directed at each other. The threat is made more ominous by a potential war that would be partially motivated by deep-seated religious differences.
Not many years ago the Berlin Wall fell, and the communist Soviet empire virtually collapsed. In those—from the Western point of view—heady days, some observers thought it possible that the world was adopting a new order, one that would usher in an unprecedented age of international cooperation. One hundred fifty nations soon signed a fairly comprehensive treaty to ban nuclear tests.
Recent events show that no end to the nuclear threat is in sight. If more countries develop or gain access to these nightmarish weapons, the world will become an even more dangerous place. The West has solid reasons for wanting to contain the nuclear spread. Yet Libya, Iran, Iraq and possibly North Korea are seen as nations with the disconcerting capacity to gain nuclear arsenals in the not-too-distant future.
A Sobering Press Briefing
This writer recently attended a press briefing at the Foreign Press Association in London at which Gerald Segal, director of studies at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, analyzed recent India-Pakistan developments in the light of the nuclear threat.
Dr. Segal lamented the harm done to the discernible progress that previously had been made in limiting the nuclear threat. He noted that nations such as the United States, Russia and Britain had already made drastic cuts in such weaponry and that South Africa and Brazil had apparently pulled out of the atomic race.
Dr. Segal described the recent tests as "a wakeup call to us all" and reminded his listeners that bad decisions now will increase the threat to human survival.
The director of strategic studies shocked some in the audience when he declared that China is the main reason India possesses and develops nuclear weaponry. Particularly in the long term, India is far more afraid of China than Pakistan, he said. Many observers have already labeled China as the next superpower.
National prestige affects Indian thinking. According to Strategic Comments, "India wants to be seen to have a hydrogen bomb both because these devices are vastly more destructive than fission bombs (as used in Hiroshima in 1945) and for reasons of national prestige.
"The possession of such weapons would clearly raise India above Pakistan, and—so Indians think—place them in the club of the five recognised nuclear-weapons states [America, Russia, Britain, France and China]. These countries are also permanent members of the UN Security Council, to which India believes it has a right to belong."
A Growing Fraternity
The number of nuclear powers is growing. Experts recognize the existence of five such nations, but, according to Dr. Segal, in reality there are now "five plus two" now that India and Pakistan have joined the nuclear club. He, along with some other analysts, believes that other countries, including Israel, also possess nuclear arms.
As nuclear weaponry expands, other nations feel it crucial to develop and add nuclear devices to their defense arsenals. To them it is a matter of common sense and survival. This situation considerably weakens world community control over the nuclear-arms race.
Economic pressures in Pakistan are adding to the fear that she will share her nuclear secrets with nations such as Iraq and Iran—for a hefty price, of course. Western sanctions that could greatly increase Pakistani economic hardship might drive her into making sales to dangerous and unstable regimes.
It's a catch-22 conundrum. The West feels sanctions are an important deterrence to further nuclear activity, but if overly applied they could easily backfire. It's a delicate balancing act.
No one wants to be faced with such dilemmas. Somewhere we have gone wrong. Is there a source that tells us the significance of these and other world-altering events and where we can expect to be 10, 20 and 50 years from now?
The Largely Ignored Biblical Perspective
The nuclear threat is not divorced from the Bible. Though 2,000 years old and more, the Scriptures are quite up to date and applicable to our world. They specifically warn us that an unprecedented time of universal distress will descend on planet earth. Several biblical authors describe an era of earth-jarring events and chaos.
Consider these words from the book of Daniel (ca. 535 B.C.), written by a prophet of God: "At that time Michael [an archangel] shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time" (Daniel 12:1 Daniel 12:1And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which stands for the children of your people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time your people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
American King James Version×, emphasis added throughout).
Even earlier the prophet Jeremiah wrote similar words of warning: "Ask and see: Can a man bear children? Then why do I see every man with his hands on his stomach like a woman in labour, every face turned deathly pale? How awful that day will be! None will be like it. It will be a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it" (Jeremiah 30:6-7 Jeremiah 30:6-7  Ask you now, and see whether a man does travail with child? why do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness?
 Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.
American King James Version×, New International Version).
Until the mid-20th century mankind could not have grasped the horrendous portent of these words. Yet they are rendered more ominous by the later warnings of Jesus Christ Himself: "It will be a time of great distress; there has never been such a time from the beginning of the world until now, and will never be again. If that time of troubles were not cut short, no living thing could survive; but for the sake of God's chosen it will be cut short" (Matthew 24:21-22 Matthew 24:21-22  For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
American King James Version×, New English Bible).
Ours is a world fraught with unexpected dangers. Our future is in jeopardy. We need to make sure we are spiritually on our guard. Jesus Himself warns: "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:36 Luke 21:36Watch you therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
American King James Version×).
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