Thu Jan 10, 2013, 05:57 PM
bananas (27,505 posts)
Analyzing and reducing the risks of inadvertent nuclear war between the United States and Russia
http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/baum20130110
Analyzing and reducing the risks of inadvertent nuclear war between the United States and Russia Seth Baum Ethical Technology Posted: Jan 10, 2013 This paper develops a mathematical modeling framework using fault trees and Poisson processes for analyzing the risks of inadvertent nuclear war from U.S. or Russian misinterpretation of false alarms in early warning systems, and for assessing the potential value of inadvertence risk reduction options. The model also uses publicly available information on earlywarning systems, nearmiss incidents, and other factors to estimate probabilities of a U.S.Russia crisis, the rates of false alarms, and the probabilities that leaders will launch missiles in response to a false alarm. The paper discusses results, uncertainties, limitations, and policy implications. <snip>

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3 replies  Author  Time  Post 
Analyzing and reducing the risks of inadvertent nuclear war between the United States and Russia (Original post) 
bananas  Jan 2013  OP 
bananas  Jan 2013  #1  
AverageJoe90  Jan 2013  #2  
bananas  Jan 2013  #3 
Response to bananas (Original post)
Thu Jan 10, 2013, 07:18 PM
bananas (27,505 posts)
1. Around 1 or 2% chance of accidental nuclear war each year.
The paper covers a lot, including proposals for reducing the risks.
These excerpts give their estimates as things stand now, and compare them with Martin Hellman's estimates. Analyzing and Reducing the Risks of Inadvertent Nuclear War Between the United States and Russia Anthony M. Barrett,1,*, Seth D. Baum1,2,3 and Kelly R. Hostetler1,2 1. Global Catastrophic Risk Institute 2. Center for Research on Environmental Decisions, Columbia University 3. Department of Geography, Pennsylvania State University * Corresponding author. Email: tony@gcrinstitute.org Forthcoming in: Science and Global Security. This version dated 6 January 2013. <snip> In general, estimates are reported to only one significant digit, to help avoid giving a false impression of precision. Table 1 gives the mean and median estimated annual probability of inadvertent nuclear war for both the base case set of assumptions and for the sensitivity case where launch in response to false alarms during low tensions is excluded from possibility. The mean estimated annual probability if assuming that inadvertence is impossible during periods of low U.S.Russia tensions, 0.01, is approximately half of the inadvertence probability with the base case assumptions, 0.02, and a slightly lower ratio is present with median values. In other words, the overall inadvertence rate associated with high U.S.Russia tensions comprises roughly half of the base case model estimated inadvertence risk. (That also means that the overall inadvertence rate associated with low U.S.Russia tensions comprises the other half of the base case model estimated inadvertence risk.) <snip> Table 1: ModelEstimated Annual Probability of U.S. or Russian Launch in Response to Mistaken Indicators of Attack by Other Nation Probability Statistic, Base Case Assumptions, Sensitivity Case Assumptions Mean 0.02 0.01 Median 0.009 0.003 <snip> One additional type of model validity check often used in simulation modeling is the comparison of results of different models or assessments. Perhaps the model with the most easily comparable outputs (i.e. annual probability of nuclear war) is that of Hellman,214 which used an approach somewhat different from the approach in this paper to estimate that “the failure rate of (USRussia nuclear war) deterrence from all sources is on the order of one percent per year.” That is approximately equivalent to this paper’s basecase median estimated annual probability of inadvertent nuclear war. However, it should be noted that the estimate of Hellman is for “all sources” and not just for the inadvertence scenarios we examine in this paper. The Hellman estimate does not depend on explicitly estimating falsealarm rates, nor on estimating the probability of a U.S. or Russian leader launching an attack in response to a false alarm. In addition, with basecase assumptions, the model in this paper produces estimates of inadvertence probability for periods of low U.S.Russia tensions, in addition to the U.S.Russia crisis periods that Hellman focuses on. However, the Hellman estimates of annual U.S.Russia crisis probability are used in the model in this paper. <snip> 
Response to bananas (Original post)
Thu Jan 10, 2013, 08:20 PM
AverageJoe90 (10,745 posts)
2. A risk, btw, that was never high to begin with, since the end of the Cold War.
As for the comment of a 12% chance of an accidental nuclear conflict....well, while that may have indeed been true during most of the Cold War(and perhaps something like 5% during the bad old days of the mid1980s), these days, at least for now, it would probably be more like .1 or .2%.

Response to AverageJoe90 (Reply #2)
Sat Jan 12, 2013, 08:27 AM
bananas (27,505 posts)