Princeton University created “Nuclear Biscuit,” a virtual reality simulation about what a president would go through while facing a doomsday scenario. It was developed by the university’s Program on Science and Global Security, in collaboration with a nuclear disarmament group Global Zero.
The programme got its name after the card containing the US President’s nuclear launch codes.
Last year, the researchers showed off their work at the Munich Security Conference, even letting lawmakers and national security experts try it out.
The users would have to wear a VR headset and then undergo the scenario in which they assumed the role of the US President and were tasked with deciding how to respond to a nuclear attack, if at all.
After trying the simulation, Richard Burt, a former US negotiator for nuclear arms control with the Soviet Union said: “You walk into that simulation and come out a changed person.”
Over the course of 15 minutes, which is the real-life decision-making window in such a scenario, participants had the opportunity to interact with advisors, ask questions, and determine an appropriate course of action.
The immersive experience replicates the uncertainty and pressures of the proverbial “3AM phone call” and would allow users to diagnose the current ability, or inability, of a president (or presidential candidate) to respond rationally to a nuclear crisis.
Ambassador Ivo Daalder, a former US Permanent Representative to NATO said: “This simulation shows how truly terrifying it would be if a president had to decide on launching US nuclear weapons in the few minutes after receiving warnings of an incoming strike — and why we need to do everything we can to prevent such a situation from ever occurring,”
Dr Sharon Weiner, an associate professor at American University said: “Our goal in creating this virtual reality experience is to force people to grapple with the consequences of current U.S. nuclear strategy.
“We hope to not only raise awareness about the dangers of current US nuclear policy but to use the experience to better understand how people are likely to behave in a nuclear crisis.”
This comes as Russia increasingly puts pressure on Ukraine, sparking fears of third world war.
A Ukrainian minister and former top spy, Yuliia Laputina warned that an invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces could trigger World War 3.
Speaking to Sky News, Major General Laputina said: “Yeah. Because geopolitically, it looks like this is a possible scenario.
“So we should pay attention to the Ukrainian issue because of the security of the continent.
“This – the spreading of war in case of Russian invasion to Ukraine – will be much wider than Ukraine.”
His words came after Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the situation could emulate that of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The 1962 event saw the US and the Soviet Union come within touching distance of all-out nuclear war.
But if the pair did ever come to nuclear war, it’s unlikely anyone would survive, thanks to Mutually Assured Destruction.
The unwritten Cold War-era doctrine means that a nuclear attack by one superpower would be met with an overwhelming nuclear counterattack such that both the attacker and the defender would be annihilated.