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Consequences of a Single Failure of Nuclear Deterrence

PSR Senior Scientist Steven Starr, February 2011

Only a single failure of nuclear deterrence is required to start a nuclear war, and the consequences of such a failure would be profound. Peer-reviewed studies predict that less than 1% of the nuclear weapons now deployed in the arsenals of the Nuclear Weapon States, if detonated in urban areas, would immediately kill tens of millions of people, and cause long-term, catastrophic disruptions of the global climate and massive destruction of Earth’s protective ozone layer.


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