Since the nuclear bomb strikes on Japan that effectively ended the second world war, nuclear weapons have never again been used in combat with another nation. The raw power of nuclear weaponry showed the world that it was best used as a threat, not a tool of warfare.
This morning a nuclear detonation occured in North Korea. According to NPR, this detonation was far more powerful than the two previous weapon trials carried out by North Korea.
According to one source, the president will take a moment to "sharply rebuke" North Korea for this latest nuclear test in his 2013 state of the union address. But is that all we the nation is planning to do? Nuclear weapons in the hands of rational state actors do not pose nearly as much a threat as such munitions in the hands of a player like North Korea.
While the state of the union address will most likely focus its attention on, say, the state of the union here at home, such actions overseas and so close to US allies poses a grave threat to us all. With Japan already at odds with China over the small, uninhabited Senkaku and Diaoyu islands that both nations claim, China's historic back of it's brothers in North Korea, a new cabinet of Japanese ministers who seem far too nationalistic for their own country's well-being, and close ties between the US with both Japan and South Korea, the region seems like a tinderbox that's ready to go up in flames - and that will drag the US into fire with it.
Another war is the last thing the US needs right now, and hopefully Obama can offer a vision for the region - or, at least, a vision for how we will or will not be involved.