Nuclear Risks: Perceptions and Pathways

31 August 2023
Nuclear Risks: Perceptions and Pathways

Concerns over nuclear risks have been steadily growing over the past decade. This trend rapidly accelerated over the last year, leading the UN Secretary General António Guterres to describe the current situation as “a time of nuclear danger not seen since the height of the Cold War”. The view that nuclear risk is unacceptably high and growing has been shared by heads of states and citizens across the world. 

However, there is little agreement on what constitutes a nuclear risk or the origins of such risk. Even the nuclear weapon states diverge in their perceptions of the risk, priority concerns, and envisaged pathways to nuclear use. Absence of a shared understanding of nuclear risks and their origins weakens the ability of the international community to meaningfully engage in nuclear risk reduction.  

As a part of its nuclear risk reduction workstream, UNIDIR’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Programme hosted a retreat on “Nuclear Risks: Perceptions and Pathways”. The retreat took place in Montreux, Switzerland between August 31 – September 2, 2023, and brought together eighteen leading nuclear and strategic experts from the five nuclear weapons states. 

The retreat provided a venue for experts from China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US to explore different views on nuclear risk, discuss diverging risk perceptions and identify areas of agreement on nuclear risk. 

The retreat report will be published soon.