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List of nuclear close calls

List of incidents which could have led to a nuclear exchange / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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A nuclear close call is an incident that might have led to at least one unintended nuclear detonation or explosion, but did not. These incidents typically involve a perceived imminent threat to a nuclear-armed country which could lead to retaliatory strikes against the perceived aggressor. The damage caused by international nuclear exchange is not necessarily limited to the participating countries, as the hypothesized rapid climate change associated with even small-scale regional nuclear war could threaten food production worldwide—a scenario known as nuclear famine.[1]


Despite a reduction in global nuclear tensions and major nuclear arms reductions after the end of the Cold War (in 1992),[clarification needed] estimated nuclear warhead stockpiles total roughly 15,000 worldwide, with the United States and Russia holding 90% of the total.[2]

Though exact details on many nuclear close calls are hard to come by, the analysis of particular cases has highlighted the importance of a variety of factors in preventing accidents. At an international level, this includes the importance of context and outside mediation; at the national level, effectiveness in government communications, and involvement of key decision-makers; and, at the individual level, the decisive role of individuals in following intuition and prudent decision-making, often in violation of protocol.[3]