Harvard Expert Warns Of Increased Nuclear War Risk Amid Global Tensions

The world faces an unprecedented risk of nuclear conflict, according to Harvard professor Matthew Bunn, who cautions that the danger has not been this high since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Bunn, an expert in energy, national security, and foreign policy, highlighted the urgency of the situation in an editorial published in the journal Science.

Bunn noted several factors contributing to the heightened risk, including Russia’s nuclear posturing in the Ukraine conflict, China’s rapid expansion of its missile arsenal, North Korea’s ongoing missile tests, and the nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan.

Additionally, Iran’s nuclear ambitions further complicate the global landscape. The expiration of the New START Treaty in 2026, without a replacement in sight, exacerbates these threats.

“The risk of nuclear war has not been so high since the Cuban Missile Crisis,” Bunn wrote. “We are on the brink of a new and complex arms race involving more countries and advanced technologies.”

The professor emphasized the need for global leaders to engage a new generation of scientists and engineers to develop innovative solutions to these challenges. Bunn’s warning comes amid a broader societal focus on issues such as climate change and artificial intelligence, often overshadowing the persistent and growing threat of nuclear conflict.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić recently echoed these concerns, warning that escalating tensions in Ukraine could lead to disaster. Vučić emphasized that neither Russia nor NATO can afford to lose, making the situation even more perilous. “We are approaching a real catastrophe,” Vučić stated, urging major powers to seek de-escalation.

The global nuclear arsenal remains formidable, with the United States and Russia holding the largest stockpiles. According to the Federation of American Scientists, the U.S. has approximately 5,100 warheads, while Russia has around 5,580. Other nuclear-armed countries include China, the United Kingdom, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel.

Robert M. Dover, an intelligence and national security expert at the University of Hull, added that reductions in conventional military forces have shortened the ladder of escalation, increasing the likelihood of nuclear conflict. “As conventional forces are reduced, the danger is higher,” Dover explained.

Bunn and other experts call for renewed efforts in arms control and non-proliferation to mitigate these risks. Some, like mathematical physicist Eric Weinstein, suggest that resuming nuclear testing might help remind the world of the catastrophic potential of these weapons.

As global tensions rise, the imperative for effective diplomacy and international cooperation becomes ever more critical. The warnings from experts like Bunn serve as a stark reminder of the stakes involved and the urgent need for proactive measures to prevent a nuclear catastrophe.