The risk of nuclear weapons use is still as high as it was in the years of confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States, Andrei Bystritsky, the Chairman of the Board of the Valdai International Discussion Club’s Development and Support Foundation, told in connection with the 45th anniversary of the signing of the Prevention of Nuclear War Agreement.
Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and US President Richard Nixon signed the document in Washington on June 22, 1973. The agreement particularly says that the parties "agree that an objective of their policies is to remove the danger of nuclear war and of the use of nuclear weapons."
According to Bystritsky, the nuclear threat has not increased since then but it hasn’t subsided either. "I think that the overall risk level remains high - the risk that some optional methods of using nuclear weapons may be employed accidentally." "At the same time, [given the emergence of new nuclear powers] some proportions of the nuclear threat have changed," he added.
The expert pointed out that it was the reason why the agreement had continuing relevance. "As long as there are nuclear weapons, all agreements that concern nuclear arms will remain relevant, for we should not underestimate this great threat," Bystritsky said. Meanwhile, in his words, the threat of global nuclear conflict did have some positive aspects as nuclear weapons are a most important tool to maintain global peace. "By creating a greater threat, it [the risk of nuclear weapons use] removed smaller threats which, however, posed no less danger," the expert explained.
When speaking about the prospects for the development of international agreements on reducing the risk of a nuclear conflict, Bystritsky noted that the idea of abandoning all global weapons sounds tempting but there was a need to be cautious about its implementation. "It would definitely be better if there was no chance at all that the humankind will be wiped out in an instant. However, this threat makes it possible to deter many other risks, so it is a matter of details," he said.
"The idea of disarmament is not losing its appeal but in the modern world we must treat it cautiously," the expert concluded.