This regular session pits expert judgment against the wisdom of crowds to forecast the global nuclear future—a notoriously difficult but necessary part of policymaking. Before the conference, the panelists were asked to estimate the likelihood of various nuclear-related events taking place within the next two years, that is, prior to the 2021 Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference. During the panel, audience members can make their own predictions using the conference smartphone app. The panelists will discuss both the audiences’ answers as well as their own.

Moderator

Jeffrey Lewis, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies

Panelists

Laura Holgate, Nuclear Threat Initiative

Togzhan Kassenova, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Yasuyoshi Komizo, Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation

Manpreet Sethi, Center for Air Power Studies

Results

Before the session, the panelists responded to six forecasting questions about nuclear events over the next two years. During the session, the audience responded to the same questions using the conference app. Here are all the forecasts, which we will compare to reality at the 2019 conference:

What is the likelihood that, by March 12, 2021, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will have entered into force?

Panelists’ responses

Holgate: 0%
Kassenova: 55%
Komizo: 98%
Sethi: 50%

Panelists’ average: 51%
Panelists’ standard deviation: 40%

Audience responses

Audience average: 30%
Audience standard deviation: 28%
Number of respondents: 299

What is the likelihood that, by March 12, 2021, Iran will have withdrawn from, or announced the suspension of some or all of its obligations under, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action?

Panelists’ responses

Holgate:  40%
Kassenova: 20%
Komizo: 50%
Sethi: 25%

Panelists’ average: 34%
Panelists’ standard deviation: 14%

Audience responses

Audience average: 48%
Audience standard deviation: 25%
Number of respondents: 322

What is the likelihood that, by March 12, 2021, North Korea will have resumed the testing of nuclear weapons and/or ballistic missiles capable of reaching intercontinental distances?1

Panelists’ responses

Holgate: 80%
Kassenova: 50%
Komizo: 40%
Sethi: 20%

Panelists’ average: 48%
Panelists’ standard deviation: 25%

Audience responses

Audience average: 59%
Audience standard deviation: 25%
Number of respondents: 322

1 Tests of “ballistic missiles capable of reaching intercontinental distances” include tests of ICBMs that travel less than intercontinental distances because they are fired on lofted trajectories.

What is the likelihood that, by March 12, 2021, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) will have been extended for any length of time?

Panelists’ responses

Holgate: 50%
Kassenova: 60%
Komizo: 50%
Sethi: 60%

Panelists’ average: 55%
Panelists’ standard deviation: 6%

Audience responses

Audience average: 41%
Audience standard deviation: 42%
Number of respondents: 303

What is the likelihood that, by March 12, 2021, the United States will have withdrawn from, or given formal notice of its intention to withdraw from, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)?

Panelists’ responses

Holgate: 20%
Kassenova: 10%
Komizo: 5%
Sethi: 0%

Panelists’ average: 9%
Panelists’ standard deviation: 9%

Audience responses

Audience average: 14%
Audience standard deviation: 17%
Number of respondents: 290

What is the likelihood that, by March 12, 2021, the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors will have made at least one new determination that a state is in noncompliance with its safeguards obligations?

Panelists’ responses

Holgate: 20%
Kassenova: 20%
Komizo: 20%
Sethi: 10%

Panelists’ average: 18%
Panelists’ standard deviation: 5%

Audience responses

Audience average: 32%
Audience standard deviation: 24%
Number of respondents: 282