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 Article: Broken Arrows Posted on 1-14-2005
WOTR News Article To me, it's amazing the way technology has advanced. It's really not a surprise since the Bible predicted this would happen (See Daniel 12:4), but it is astonishing in every respect as I take a look back through the past century. One of the most incredible aspects of this is the speed at which nuclear capabilities came on the scene. By 1945, the Nuclear Age had already begun, and with this radical advance came a new danger; and with this new danger came a new phrase, more of a codeword actually: "Broken Arrow".

Since 1950, there have been at least 32 nuclear weapon accidents, known as "Broken Arrows." A "Broken Arrow" is defined as an unexpected event involving nuclear weapons being accidentally launched, fired, detonated, burned, or jettisoned. In other words, when something goes wrong with a nuke, the military has a "Broken Arrow" on its hands. It's a pretty sobering thing to consider: misuse, malfunction, or an unforeseeable collision could endanger the lives of thousands, possibly millions of lives; this is without even considering the radiation that may perhaps follow.

The history of nuclear weapons accidents is just about as old as the weapons themselves, with the first official accident taking place in 1950 when a "U.S. B-29 departing Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico crashed three minutes after takeoff. Detonators had been installed on a nuclear bomb on board, but because the capsule of fissile material had not been inserted, nuclear detonation was not possible. The bomb's casing was destroyed and some high explosive burned in the fire." (CNN)

Later that year, the first "Broken Arrow" involving actual nuclear radiation occurred: "The U.S. Defense Department, in its 1980 publication on nuclear accidents, stated the following: "A B-50, experiencing an in-flight emergency, jettisoned a bomb over water (outside the United States) from an altitude of 10,500 feet. The weapon's HE [high explosive] detonated on impact." The report failed to mention that the accident apparently took place just north of the U.S. border in Quebec. According to John Clearwater, a Canadian Defense Department employee working independently on a study of nuclear weapons in Canada, the B-50 jettisoned a Mark 4 bomb over the St. Lawrence River near Riviere-du-Loup, about 300 miles northeast of Montreal. Clearwater told The Canadian Press that the weapon, lacking its essential plutonium core, was detonated above the river. According to Clearwater, detonation of the bomb's high explosives shook the region, scattering nearly 100 pounds (45 kg) of uranium. The U.S. Air Force reportedly covered up the incident at the time, saying a load of conventional practice bombs had been jettisoned by the B-50, which later landed safely at a U.S. Air Force base in Maine." (CNN)


Since that time, a lengthy list of "Broken Arrows" have transpired, some more serious than others. Bombs have malfunctioned, submarines have collided, planes with nukes have crashed, and an estimated 50 nuclear warheads still lie on the bottom of the world's oceans. While this may sound bad, things could certainly be a lot worse when you consider the sheer amount of weapons that have been produced and the number of times they have been transported. During the Cold War, there were years when at least one US bomber loaded with nukes was in the sky at all times. In addition, both Washington and Moscow sent out large fleets of nuclear subs to patrol their waters. With all of this activity, "Broken Arrows" were almost unavoidable!

You may be thinking: This is quite interesting, but how do nuclear weapons relate to Christianity? But I want to ask you: Do you have any "Broken Arrows" in your life? Have there been situations where you've lost control and the results have been unexpected, to say the least? Maybe a drastic change has shattered your health, finances, marriage, or all of the above. Now you're faced with the wreckage of the aftermath and you don't know where or how to begin the process of "cleaning up".

You can find comfort in knowing that Jesus is with you (Matthew 28:20) and He knows all about your problems, for He is the one who formed you (Isaiah 44:2). Not only is Christ aware, but He also holds the key to your solution. Nothing is too hard for Him (Jeremiah 32:27). He can calm the stormy seas (Mark 4:38-39) and bring hope out of chaos (Genesis 1). Jesus is able to shine light where before there was only overwhelming darkness (John 8:12). Even a "Broken Arrow" is no match for the God of Heaven!

When a bomber carrying nuclear weapons goes down, the weapons normally are not armed, so the explosion is not as bad as it could have been. However, the radioactive material can still leak out, contaminating the surrounding area. The negative effects can be enduring. When human emotions arise, such as anger, jealousy, lust, passion, etc., the situation can quickly become volatile, even if we never intended for things to get out of hand. Unless we allow Jesus to guide our thoughts and regulate our actions, emotions can erupt into foolish choices leading to disastrous consequences, which may not go away as easily as they appeared. (To avoid "Broken Arrows" in your life, read and apply the counsel that Paul provides in Ephesians 4:17-32)

When it comes to "Broken Arrows" the governments involved usually try their best to keep the situation "hushed". CNN reports "Officially, the governments of the nuclear powers are not very forthcoming with information regarding nuclear accidents." Even the most up to date documentation does not tell the full story, for no additional list of nuclear weapon accidents acknowledged by the Pentagon has been released since 1980, yet nuclear weapons have not gone away. In an effort to avoid details, the U.S. military's policy is to neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons in most accidents.

While governments may be involved in covering up the facts, we shouldn't follow that example. If we've had "Broken Arrow" experiences in our past, or if we're going through one now, the last thing we want to do is attempt to cover it up from God's eyes. The Lord knows what we're going through and He longs to help. Proverbs 28:13 says "He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy." There's no sense in hiding your mistakes from God, for He sees what's in your heart and He's ready to wash your sin away (Isaiah 1:18). And if you've wronged others, the Lord may be leading you to make amends instead of hiding the matter (James 5:16; Luke 19:8).

It's a tragic scene when an accident occurs involving nuclear weapons, but those involved realize that it needs to be taken care of, and the sooner the better. A "Broken Arrow" is a demanding problem that won't just go away on its own. Sin is similar. It's as serious as can be and it requires immediate response. Unless our sins are dealt with right away, they begin to grow and multiply until we have an even greater epidemic on our hands. The solution to this is simple: Come to Jesus! (1 John 1:9) If you recognize your weakness and inability to "fix" things on your own, then come to Jesus my friend: "We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him. They are the people he called, because that was his plan." (Romans 8:28 NCV) If you truly love God, then you can put your hand in His, knowing in advance that even the worst "Broken Arrows" in your life will come out alright in the end with Christ as our Savior.

View an interactive map outlining the history of Broken Arrows

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