What could happen if a country’s nuclear briefcase fell into the wrong hands? Or then again, what would happen in the event of a nuclear conflict?


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These are the two questions that spurred South African journalist Al J Venter to write Nuclear Terror, to be released next June. The answers are by no means reassuring. It’s not just North Korea that is threatening the nuclear balance of power. Of course, Pyongyang is one of the greatest sources of concern when we’re talking about nuclear warheads atop intercontinental ballistic missiles. But this shouldn’t lead us to believe that other nations possessing the same technologies don’t pose a threat.

Venter’s book even takes a look at the United States, where President Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened the use of force to combat so-called rogue states. Or Russia led by Vladimir Putin, ever the tsar and now clearly set on destabilizing the West. And then there’s Iran, which at least Trump views as a serious world threat. Venter has spent the last years analysing how countries possessing nuclear warheads have fared and developed over the last decade and the possible implications for the entire planet. In the end, he’s come up with no final conclusion. On the one hand, we’ve witnessed the longest period of global peace in the last centuries. On the other, there’s evidence of an increasingly fragmented power structure.

The United States has lost much of its influence, while the wave of strongmen heading states with nuclear strike capacity is growing. Is a nuclear conflict likely? No point denying it. The risk is there. And only diplomacy can avoid it becoming real. Venter doesn’t criticize nuclear energy; he’s only against it being used to build weapons of mass destruction. Hiroshima and Nagasaki must never be forgotten. Ever.

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