Unintended nuclear war – lack of problem awareness

Information on alarm messages is only partially available

In the past, many false alarms have become known, which have led to dangerous situations. However, this does not apply to all critical situations, because false alarms about missile attacks are subject to secrecy and are usually not published. At the beginning of the 1980s there were various press reports about false alarms and dangerous situations. As a result, the US Senate initiated an investigation, the results of which were published. Therefore, there are findings on all critical incidents in the American early warning system for a certain period between 1979 and 1980. Other incidents became known only decades later due to statements made by those involved. In some cases (e.g. https://www.spiegel.de/einestages/kuba-krise-1962-falscher-abschussbefehl-fuer-atomraketen-a-1060165.html ), the information is based on statements made by a single person. These statements cannot be verified because other persons involved are no longer alive.

From the fact that from the last years or decades no or only few false alarms are known, it cannot be concluded that the risk of a nuclear war caused by a false alarm does not exist at present. Such situations are subject to secrecy and do not become known or only become known much later. Statistics on false alarms and dangerous situations in certain time periods are therefore not relevant for an assessment of the current danger situation.

Comparison 1980s – today

The arguments in this section concern Germany. In the 1980s, most people had experienced World War II or knew much from their parents’ stories. Germany was on the border to the potential enemy and nuclear weapons were stationed here. Thus it was easy to create a corresponding awareness of the problem and to motivate the population to protest.

Today war experiences are far away. Germany is no longer on the border to a possible enemy, but in the middle of Europe and is currently not regarded as a battlefield. Apart from the suspected nuclear weapons in B├╝chel, there are no connecting points for a protest movement. On the other hand, however, the dangers today are much greater than in the 1980s (see other points on “Unintended nuclear war – Quick introduction to the topic”). The major nuclear nations such as the USA, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, etc. would have to be chosen as starting points for protest movements, which is difficult to realize. Even if Germany were not directly a target country of a nuclear attack, the effects of a nuclear winter, for example, could also be catastrophic here.

Not predictable – sudden event

An “accidental nuclear war” is not directly predictable. As with other accidents in technical systems, there is no pre-warning. Like a “normal accident”, an accidental nuclear war can suddenly break out within a few minutes. After that, no correction is possible. Concerning normal accidents, certain actions are often taken afterwards to avoid such risks in the future. After a nuclear exchange of blows, such a future will hardly exist. In the case of nuclear war risk, we cannot wait until there has been a first “accident” in the form of an “accidental nuclear war” before taking actions to reduce these risks.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator