How can we avoid nuclear war?

Dr. Lyndon Burford

From the Cuban Missile Crisis to the Cold War, the spectre of nuclear war has loomed over the planet many times since WWII. How did we step back from the brink, and what does that tell us about how to handle Putin's threats?

Watch preview

Learn about this Garden Talk

The world is watching Russia with bated breath as its threats get more and more overt around the use of nuclear weapons to discourage intervention in its invasion of Ukraine. But this isn't the first time we've reached this point. From the Cuban Missile Crisis to the Cold War to the roughly 13,000 nuclear weapons that still exist today, the spectre of nuclear war has loomed over humanity ever since WWII. How did we step back from the brink, and how can we think about the challenge of nuclear disarmament following Putin's nuclear threats?

Dr Lyndon Burford, Visiting Research Associate at King's College London and a global expert on nuclear deterrence and disarmament, will join us in The Garden to tell us about the history of nuclear standoffs, and how blockchain technology could be used to verify and incentivise nuclear non-proliferation.

"Because Russia and the United States maintain a couple of 1000s nuclear weapons on what they call 'launch on warning' alert - or 'high alert'. But what that means is that every hour of every day, those weapons are ready to launch within 30 to 40 minutes, and they start landing on their targets about half an hour after that. So every hour of every day, we're never more than about an hour from potentially full scale, global nuclear war."

Talk Timings:

3.00 - Russian invasion of Ukraine & raised nuclear threats

6.00 - Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons // The Nuclear Ban Treaty

6.50 - Nuclear War Economy

8.07 - Ukraine War vs Cuban Missile Crisis

12.03 - Nuclear deterrence

21.00 - Steven Schwartz 'Atomic Audit' - US nuclear weapons spend

23.14 - Launch on warning alert - nuclear readiness

26.00 - Ego & Nuclear War

32.50 - How do you prevent a nuclear war?

39.43 - Member questions

  • Pavlo from Ukraine: He lives in Ukraine in a part of Ukraine, which is at real risk of being hit by a nuclear weapon if Russia was to fire one he wants to know, what can he do to protect his family from this nuclear threat?

  • Xena: Question on the Non Proliferation Treaty - What does that treaty involve?

  • Jacob: Is there a real possibility that nuclear weapons could potentially one day be banned globally? And if a country did decide to create new nuclear weapons after that, do you believe that they would be sanctioned?

  • Anna G: Question on nuclear deterrence - Do you think that nuclear deterrence works in a situation where somebody is very ego driven?

Read this talk's transcript

Talk outline


50 minutes


Ukraine War

About the Fellow

Dr. Lyndon Burford

Lyndon studies the politics, technologies and theories of nuclear disarmament at King's College London in the UK. His PhD thesis looked at the relationship between national identity and nuclear disarmament policy.

Thank you notes from Garden members

Ukraine War Collection

The 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine brought the world's attention to Eastern Europe. This collection brings together world experts to share their insights into why this conflict happened & the long term implications of the war.