What Are The Chances Of A Nuclear War Happening?
Nuclear war refers to any military conflict that deploys nuclear weapons. Unlike conventional conflict, it is guaranteed to have devastating effects. It would almost certainly lead to the deaths of at least hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians.
The weapons were developed during the Second World War, and since then, there has always been a speculation of a conflict of such magnitude. Come to think of it, it is quite a weird thing to bet on. But, our experts have rolled up their sleeves, dug deep into the statistics and gathered their data!
So, what are the odds of nuclear war? Let’s find out!
What Are The Chances Of A Nuclear War Happening?
1.4% Per Year Based on Historical Data
One way of estimating the odds of nuclear war is by checking the number of times nuclear weapons have been used in such conflicts in the past.
So far, they have only been used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and this was at the end of the Second World War. With this data, you can determine that the odds are 1.4% per year.
6.8% Risk by 2035
In 2015, 50 experts were polled and suggested that the chances of nuclear war were about 6.8%. India and Pakistan were seen as the most likely to go to war. Also, Iran and North Korea are probable to initiate a conflict within this period. About 80% of the experts polled also suggested that proxy wars and other forms of ambiguous warfare were likely to arise.
14% Odds between USA and China
Experts have predicted that the next major conflict may involve China, given its quick rise as a superpower. The USA has a 14% chance of getting into conflict with China.
Retired US Army Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis has stated that if the US gets into a military conflict over Taiwan, it is likely to stumble into a nuclear attack. Japan and China also have a 2% chance of being involved in such war.
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What Can Increase A Nuclear War Likelihood?
Continuous Testing of Nuclear Weapons
This type of weaponry has been tested for a very long time, but it has been regulated internationally since the 1960s.
In the 1990s, a number of countries signed a treaty banning these tests. However, this only restrained the USA and a few other world powers from carrying them out. Pakistan, India, and North Korea have still been pursuing these tests.
In the USA, some conservative politicians have been pushing for their resumption. Doing so would motivate other nations to start testing their own weapons, and this can increase the likelihood of a major conflict.
Threats Made by Countries
Donald Trump, the former president of the US, was known for making public threats to various countries. These include Iran and North Korea.
Experts predicted that such threats were likely to lead to such a conflict, especially since all the countries involved had nukes. Also, at the start of 2020, the USA killed a top Iranian military official.
In November 1979, the US Defense Department detected an imminent attack on the USA. This forced the US military to put its weapons on full alert. The detected attack was later discovered to be the result of a technological error.
While this was likely the most dangerous false alarm, it was only one of many. Since then, the Soviet Union, Russia, and the USA have all come very close to deploying weapons because of false alarms. If this situation is not fixed, it can result in an accidental conflict.
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Which Countries Possess Nuclear Weapons?
The United States of America
The US currently has about 4018 warheads, and these are either in deployment or storage. The country has had to reduce this type of weaponry significantly since the Cold War era.
In 1967, it had a total of 31,225 warheads. This is the highest number the US has ever possessed at a time.
The Russian Federation
Russia currently possesses approximately 6,400 warheads. It now has the largest stockpile of such weapons and more than half of the total available in the world.
Russia’s predecessor state, the USSR, was also a major nuclear power and reached a peak stockpile of 45,000 warheads in 1986.
When the USSR was dissolved in 1991, four successor states became nuclear powers. However, three of them would surrender this weaponry to the Russian Federation.
The United Kingdom
In 1952, the United Kingdom was the third country in the world to develop and test them. At the moment, the country has about 225 warheads, and up to 120 of these are available for deployment.
France started their tests in 1960 and it is recognized by the NPT as a nuclear-weapon state. It has the fourth-largest stockpile. Previously, the state also had chemical and biological weapons, but these have since been banned.
During the Cold War, China provided Uranium ores to the Soviet Union, and in exchange, China got Soviet assistance in developing this weaponry.
The process started in 1950, but the first Chinese hydrogen bomb was detonated in 1967. At the moment, the number rises to about 350.
India is not officially recognized as having this type of weapons, by the NPT. It started testing them in 1974 and currently has about 160.
India’s warhead tests forced Pakistan to start working on the development of these weapons. In 1998, the two countries held a series of tests to show off their arsenals. Pakistan is also not recognized by the NPT and has approximately 165.
North Korea has been developing such weapons for a long time. Because of the secretive nature of the country, no one knows exactly how many the state owns. However, it is estimated that the nation has 40 to 50.
The government of Israel has repeatedly claimed that it will not be the first to bring this type of weapons to the Middle East. However, it still does not deny nor accept that it has any.
It is generally believed that Israel has secretly been developing this kind of weaponry.
Which Country Is Most Likely To Start A Nuclear War?
Pakistan and India
Bodies like the CIA generally believe that the enduring India-Pakistan conflict is the most likely to result in a war. This will happen by the year 2025 as the conflict over the Kashmir region escalates.
In the 1999 Kargil War, Pakistan came very close to using its weapons, but the international community condemned the threat.
China and the USA
China has been growing its economic influence internationally, and this makes it less likely to go to war any time soon. However, the escalating threats regarding Taiwan are likely to result in a conflict.
Taiwan is not strong enough to defend itself from the Chinese military, so the USA is expected to help the Taiwanese people.
For many years, the world has been worried that North Korea will start a conflict. It has made threats against South Korea, Japan, and the USA.
Navy Adm. James Stavridis has said that there are 10% odds of war between the US and North Korea.
Is A Nuclear War Inevitable At This Point?
Conflict with North Korea
Kim Jong Un said in 2017 that a nuclear war on the Korean peninsula is inevitable. However, this was changed in 2020 when the leader of the country stated that its military is strong enough to avoid a major conflict. Therefore, the odds are still not very high.
Mutually Assured Destruction
With the current state of world militaries, any country that deploys a nuke will almost be guaranteed to be obliterated. For this reason, most leaders will be discouraged from using such weaponry. They are more likely to engage in conventional warfare.
What Is The Current Treaty For Nuclear Weapons?
Treaty Of Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
This treaty was adopted in 2017 and entered into force in 2021. Countries that sign this agreement will have to avoid developing, transferring, or threatening to use nuclear weapons in a conflict. The treaty passed with 122 countries in favour.
Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
This treaty is commonly known as the NPT. It is meant to prevent the spread of such technology and promotes peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
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