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Conditional: >2 countries detonate by 2024


Different nuclear conflict scenarios would differ hugely in how harmful they'd be in the near-term and in how much existential risk they create. In light of this, it'd be useful to have a clearer sense of the likelihood that nuclear conflict would involve many attacking and attacked countries, rather than just one or two.

(For example, the likelier it is that a conflict involving North Korea would escalate to involve a conflict between the US and either China or Russia, the more it makes sense to prioritize reducing the chance of such a conflict or such escalation, rather than focusing more strongly on only conflicts that start out involving multiple states with large arsenals.)

Will >2 countries offensively detonate nuclear weapons by 2024, if any offensive detonation of a country's nuclear weapon occurs by then?

This question resolves positively if, by 2024, there has been at least one offensive nuclear detonation of nuclear weapons owned by each of at least 3 countries. For example, it would resolve positively if at least one nuclear weapon owned by each of China, North Korea, and the US are offensively detonated, for a total of at least 3 offensive detonations. This could occur as part of one conflict or as part of multiple, separate conflicts.

This question resolves ambiguously if there is no offensive nuclear detonation a nuclear weapon owned by any country before 2024.

For the purposes of this question, offensive nuclear detonations include deliberate, inadvertent, or accidental/unauthorised detonations (see the fine print for definitions).

See also

Different countries count as different countries for this question even if they are part of a single military alliance (e.g., NATO), as you would expect.

The military significance or stated purpose of the strike is not taken into consideration for this question (except that detonations for testing purposes and peaceful nuclear explosions are not counted towards positive resolution). 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.

In 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).

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