Biden: ‘Armageddon’ risk highest since 1962

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A disturbing threat from Russian President Vladimir Putin, and a dire warning from U.S. President Biden occurred recently. 

You may not be seeing the war in Ukraine in the news every day, but reports show Russia is losing and as Russian forces retreat, Putin is talking more about using nuclear weapons.  

President Biden is warning that the world is closer than it’s ever been to nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis — tension that happened 60 years ago that the president is drawing comparisons to.

The director of the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History reminds us just how close we came to nuclear war in the 1960s.

President Joe Biden made stern remarks Thursday on the nuclear state of the world at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Reception, President Biden said in part, 

“We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis.” 

Relating today’s tensions to what could have been in 1962.

Flashback 60 years ago, to a time of major concern — the Nuclear Science Museum Director Jim Walther describes how close we got to nuclear war. 

“The Soviet Union had placed in Cuba, which is only 90 miles away from the United States, missiles — they were identified as being there,” Walther said. “President Kennedy found that that was unacceptable. We were in one of the probably most dangerous times for a nuclear exchange between these two countries at that time. They were eventually removed.” 

Walther was just six years old when the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred. 

“I was in grade school and I remember being told to be prepared for things never happened,” Walther said. 

Even at the young age of an elementary student, Walther remembers the heightened sense all around. 

“It was a high time of danger during the cold war and children were expected to duck and cover and get under their desks,” Walther said. “There were civil defense bomb shelters throughout the nation.”

Today, despite their size, it’s conveyed by many that any use of a nuclear weapon can have a major global impact, just as it could have in the past.           

“Back then the atomic weapons that the United States possessed weren’t as strong as they could be later during the Cold War,” Walther said. “Still, if we’d had an exchange, it would have changed the world.”

During the Cold War, the sheer size and power of nuclear weapons were enough to scare both sides from ever using them but what has changed now is the development of so-called “tactical nukes.”            

These are smaller warheads — not the type of nukes that many worried about during the Cold War.           

Military analysts believe if Putin uses nuclear weapons at all, he’s most likely to use a small weapon somewhere in Ukraine. 

Some Russian officials — including the head of Russia’s Chechnya region — have already called for using such small nukes. 

That would make this the biggest possible threat we’ve seen since 1962. 

“No one knows how close we came. There are people who study this history and feel like we were very close there,” said Walther. “There were people ready.”

 While tactical nukes are designed to be less destructive, the use of even one would be the first time a nuclear weapon was used since World War II. 

It’s also worth noting larger nukes are still in Russian and American arsenals as well. 

President Biden is worried about escalation, saying:

“I don’t think there’s any such thing as the ability to easily use a tactical nuclear weapon and not end up with Armageddon.”