Leading national security experts see a rising risk of a nuclear conflict, a survey conducted by the Project for Study of the 21st Century shows. A poll of 50 national security experts from around the world showed 60 percent concluding the risk had grown over the last decade. Overall, they predicted a 6.8 percent probability of a major nuclear conflict in the next 25 years killing more people than the Second World War (roughly 80,000,000 at upper estimates).
The survey featured 50 individuals including leading international relations academics, former senior military officials and private sector political risk specialists. Participants came from the UK, US, India, Pakistan, South Africa, the Middle East, Russia, France and elsewhere.
The poll showed 52 percent saying the risk of great power nuclear conflict would grow further over the coming 10 years. In addition, 80 percent said they expected proxy confrontations and other forms of “ambiguous warfare” to also increase.
“This is the first survey we know of like this,” said Peter Apps, executive director at the Project for Study of the 21st Century (PS21). “There has been plenty of talk of rising tensions with Russia and China in particular but it’s very rare to try and put numbers on that. The responses we received were, frankly, very varied. The aggregate figures show that most major potential nuclear or conventional wars seem broadly unlikely — but the numbers are still high enoughto be worrying. Clearly this is a risk that cannot be entirely discounted.”
Participants were also asked to rate the likelihood of a variety of different potential conflicts. They saw a 21 percent chance of conflict between Russia and NATO over the next 20 years with a 4 percent chance of Russia-NATO nuclear war. The risk of war between the US and China was seen at 14 percent with a 2 percent chance of nuclear conflict.