Five countries are considered to be nuclear weapons states (NWS), which are the US, Russia, France, the UK and China. But Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea also building a considerable nuclear arsenal. If World War 3 were to break out between two or more of these countries, it could spell the end for humanity.

Bryan Walsh, author of the existential risk book End Times, believes the biggest threat to life on Earth is nuclear war.

He argued political leaders in powerhouses such as Russia and the US are “less stable” and more prone to push the red button.

The journalist said now is a more dangerous time than the Cold War, when tensions between the Soviet Union and the US rose to such a point that many began to fear nuclear war.

Mr Walsh told Express.co.uk: “The biggest threat still is nuclear war. I think we have forgotten about that or put it out of our minds but the reality is that all those warheads are still there.

“More countries have them now than they did during the Cold War.

“When you talk to experts who lived through that time period, they say now is actually a more dangerous time, in part because you have less stable leaders in places like Russia and the US.”

Mr Walsh argued that nuclear weapons are being stockpiled today in the same way they were during the Cold War, which is bad news.

He added: “There was no real control system put in place for nuclear weapons. They were just being accumulated, tested, as many as a couple bombs per week were being tested during the 1950s and it is really amazing that we made it through that time period.

“It came very close often and it wasn’t until the 1960s that there was a real understanding that to use these weapons would not be the next war, it would be the ‘last war’.”

In April this year, a report from the House of Lords’ International Relations Committee said “the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater now than it has been since the Cold War.”

The report cited “disintegrating relationships between nuclear possessor states, new capabilities and technologies” as the reason behind the escalated tensions, and one expert now believes it is the biggest risk humanity faces.

When the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – the organisation behind the Doomsday Clock – made their annual announcement this year, they also cited the threat of nuclear was as one of the main reasons for keeping the clock at two minutes to midnight.

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The threat of nuclear war among powerhouses including the US, China and Russia remained a huge threat, said the scientists, with climate change also being a major cause for concern.

The organisers wrote: “Humanity now faces two simultaneous existential threats, either of which would be cause for extreme concern and immediate attention.

“These major threats—nuclear weapons and climate change—were exacerbated this past year by the increased use of information warfare to undermine democracy around the world, amplifying risk from these and other threats and putting the future of civilisation in extraordinary danger.

“There is nothing normal about the complex and frightening reality just described.”

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