Currently, nine states possess a total of ~13,000 nuclear warheads. Over the coming decades, it's possible that some of those states will abandon their nuclear weapons, that other states will develop nuclear weapons, and that global stockpiles sizes will substantially rise or fall.
And if nuclear conflict does occur, it's at least possible that that could involve the use of anywhere from just a single nuclear weapon to all the nuclear weapons that existed at the start of the conflict (or even more). A clearer sense of how many weapons might be used could inform decisions about how much various actors should prioritize nuclear risk reduction and which interventions are most valuable for nuclear risk reduction. (For example, the likelier it is that only a small number of nuclear weapons would be used, the less important it'd be to reduce the chance of arms races or of escalation from limited to large-scale nuclear war.)
Will >100 offensive nuclear detonations occur by 2024, if there's at least 1 fatality from an offensive detonation by 2024?
This question resolves positively if the number of offensive nuclear weapons detonations in total between the opening of this question and 2024 is larger than one hundred. If there is no fatality from an offensive nuclear detonations before 2024, then this question will resolve ambiguously. That is, this question conditions on at least one fatality from an offensive detonation occurring by 2024.
For the purposes of this question, offensive nuclear detonations include deliberate, inadvertent, or accidental/unauthorised detonations (see fine print for definitions) of state or nonstate nuclear weapons, but doesn't include detonations for testing purposes or peaceful nuclear explosions (even if such detonations cause substantial damage).
Resolution criteria will come from credible sources as of January 31, 2024.
- How many nuclear weapons will be detonated offensively by 2050, if at least one offensive detonation occurs?
n a deliberate detonation, the attacking nation decides to launch one or more nuclear weapons either in response to a genuine nuclear attack or without believing that it is under nuclear attack. “In an inadvertent detonation, the attacking nation mistakenly concludes that it is under nuclear attack and launches one or more nuclear weapons in what it believes is a counterattack” (Barrett et al., 2013). “In an accidental or unauthorized launch or detonation, system safeguards or procedures to maintain control over nuclear weapons fail in such a way that a nuclear weapon or missile launches or explodes without direction from leaders” (Barrett et al., 2013).
Test detonations and peaceful nuclear explosions are defined as detonations which are claimed as being a test or a peaceful nuclear explosion by an official government communication within 30 days of the event, without this being disputed by reliable media, state reports, or multinational reports. If information is unclear, then resolution will be left up to Metaculus admins.