No one wants a nuclear war, but one can accidentally break out

7  theses of Bernhard Taureck

I. The new battlefields of space, cyberspace, and information space increase the complexity of future military conflicts. Open and covert operations can be mixed (hybrid warfare). Therefore, warfare can not be easily reduced to a purely conventional war. Thus every warlike conflict has the potential to become a nuclear war.

II. Cold War geostrategic concepts concluded during the Cold War era that nuclear war would never be waged as a result of increased nuclear destruction and that threats were built that nobody would use militarily. The prospect of mutual annihilation was regarded as nuclear-war-preventing.

III. Following the end of the bipolarly divided world, the described nuclear warfare prevention episode followed a phase of reducing nuclear weapons and increasing public interest in a nuclear war risk.

IV. For some years now, this risk has not only re-emerged but has become a nuclear strategic threat to the globe that has never before existed in history. Partly, all relevant international arms restrictions have gradually ceased to exist, and during that time new nuclear-weapon states have emerged, such as India, Pakistan and North Korea. For all these actors, there is no binding conflict settlement, despite the UNO.

V. There are three risks associated with the weapons technology of and between hostile states: accidents, misleading information and machine-determined use of force. Nuclear weapon accidents have existed since they were created. So far the damage has been limited. However, there is no rule for any guaranteed relative harmlessness.

Misleading information has been part of the war since war existed. For example, in Roman antiquity, Hannibal deliberately let the Romans defeat parts of his army in order to give them the deceptive feeling of victory. If war in the pre-atomic era always included disinformation, disinformation in a geostrategic context might not be accelerating the victory, but instead trigger nuclear wars that no one can win anymore. For some military enemies and also some foreign hacker groups can infiltrate the electronic pathways of disinformation.

Disinformation is a lie that, in the event of its success, appears to the other as facts and results in unpredictable reactions including subsequent corrections of errors. Traditional military disinformation should speed up victories. By contrast, military disinformation in atomic constellations can trigger atomic fire.

VI. An even greater danger than accidents involving nuclear weapons or as an atomic reaction to disinformation are the dangers posed by a machine-determined atomic use of force.

VII. If no secure technology can differentiate between fake or reality of signals, and if the early warning times shrink so much that we become passive witnesses of a fatality, and if a machine-determined use is no longer subtractable from the use of nuclear weapons, then the final wisdom is: Under no circumstances produce more nuclear weapons, or set up and plan strategies for their use!

Translated with