Nuclear war seemed to be a problem of the past before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Nuclear weapons never went away, but with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, nuclear worries are making a comeback.

The possibility of nuclear conflict appears to be greater than it has ever been in recent years as great-power competition intensifies.

The emergence of non-nuclear long-range precision strike capabilities (including hypersonic weapons), as well as renewed interest in exotic nuclear delivery methods, and more obvious techniques of counter-space, anti-submarine, and cyber warfare, are all taking place in a real-time and permeable nuclear information space. Indeed, these developments may change the dynamics of regional nuclear deterrence. Relations between the major nuclear powers have become tense, the spread of nuclear weapons to new states has led to unsettling regional nuclear orders, and technological advancements are posing new threats and may even introduce new instabilities. There is a new nuclear order in place that combines long-standing worries with unique new threats. When major nations fear that their competitors may threaten their hold on power, they may use nuclear weapons to assert their own dominance, escalating the risk of a nuclear exchange.

Following the Russia-Ukraine war, The US decided not to direct military support for Ukraine following Russia’s second incursion earlier this year because of worry that sending soldiers or establishing a no-fly zone may trigger a nuclear World War III. The US and European governments’ support for Ukraine make Russian President Vladimir Putin aggressive and threatened to use nuclear weapons in case of support for Ukraine. The AUKUS submarine which has signed between the UK, the US, and Australia in 2023 also has implications for global arms control and non-proliferation efforts.

The use of nuclear power in submarines raises concerns about the potential for nuclear accidents and it has been criticized by some as a step away from efforts to reduce the world’s reliance on nuclear weapons.

April 2023, South Korean Presidents Yoon Suk-Yeol and Joe Biden of the United States have agreed to increase deterrence against North Korea, including by transferring nuclear-armed US submarines to South Korea. The New START Treaty, the final remaining nuclear arms control pact between the United States and Russia, was announced by Vladimir Putin to be suspended on February 21, 2023. Additionally, it raises concerns about the future of weapons control and raises the possibility of an accelerated nuclear arms race between key

Russian concerns are not the only ones, which further complicate matters. For instance, China is rapidly increasing its arsenal, this may lead to a nuclear exchange over Taiwan. The unpredictable North Korea is still conducting ballistic missile tests, and Iran is making progress toward obtaining nuclear weapons. The United States is still developing its nuclear capabilities while also providing nuclear security to at least 30 other nations. The risk comes from the fact that having more nuclear weapons in more hands raises the concern that at least one of these devastating weapons will be used. There can be no assumption of deterrence or responsible custody.

Possession of nuclear weapons can act as a kind of shield that could increase the prevalence of non-nuclear aggression.

It is believed that the nuclear crisis was an artifact of the Cold War. The world is edging closer to a time when nuclear weapons may define it even more clearly. It is a fallacy to believe that having more nuclear weapons makes you safer. More nuclear weapons make you less safe at a certain point. The goal is to keep both sides’ arsenals at a minimal deterrence level such that, even in the worst-case scenario, the human race and the world
civilization is not in danger.

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