Nuclear saber rattling: other times when war was imminent

As President Vladimir Putin puts Russia’s vast nuclear arsenal — the world’s largest — on edge, we look back at other times when the threat of nuclear war loomed.

– 1962: Cuban Missile Crisis –

In October 1962, in the heart of the Cold War, a 13-day confrontation between Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and US President John F. Kennedy sparks fears of nuclear war.

On October 14, US reconnaissance aircraft photographed Soviet medium-range missile launch pads in Cuba, just 145 kilometers (90 miles) from the US.

Kennedy, who did not allow the Soviets to place their nuclear arsenal so close to the US, warns Khrushchev that he will attack the Soviet Union if it does not withdraw its missiles, and orders a naval blockade of Cuba, mobilizing 140,000 troops .

Khrushchev agrees to withdraw the missiles in exchange for Washington promising not to invade Cuba and get its Jupiter missiles from Turkey.

– 2001-2002: India-Pakistan nuclear crisis –

In May 2002, India and Pakistan have been at odds over the disputed Himalayan state of Kashmir since their partition in 1947.

India accuses Islamists from Pakistan of a suicide attack on the parliament in New Delhi on December 13, 2001, which killed 14.

The two countries, which became nuclear powers in 1998, are mobilizing a million soldiers at the border.

In April 2002, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said he would use nuclear weapons if he were destroyed by an attack from India.

Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes says: “India can survive a nuclear attack, but Pakistan cannot.”

For the next two years, New Delhi and Islamabad will conduct tit-for-tat missile tests, but then there will be a de-escalation under pressure from Washington.

A ceasefire in November 2003 is followed by a dialogue in January 2004.

– Hiroshima and Nagasaki –

The US is the only country to have used nuclear weapons. The attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 killed 214,000 people, led to the surrender of Japan and the end of World War II.

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