If you grew up in the 1980s, you’ll remember movies, video games and music referencing the threat of nuclear annihilation. It terrified millions, including my eight year old self
- Jason Wilson is a Guardian columnist
Every time Donald Trump opens his mouth lately, like when he recklessly promised “fire and fury” to North Korea on Tuesday, it serves as an awkward reminder that the United States had some 1,400 nuclear warheads ready to be launched on his authority and a stockpile of thousands more.
Of course, they’ve always been there. Although the stockpiles were whittled down following the end of the cold war, the United States and Russia have each retained an arsenal big enough to destroy human civilisation, if not human life. It’s just that after their 40-year standoff wound down from the late 80s on, nukes seemed a less urgent danger. Over time, they faded as an issue in the news and as a preoccupation in the culture.