So...is there reason for optimism in the world to avoid the cataclysm of a nuclear conflagration or is that wishful thinking? And more to the point what could that optimism be based on?
As far as a nuclear war? I don't think so. Albeit NOT including a nuclear war by accident which always remains a possibility.
There's a couple of accounts recently by Pepe Escobar and Mike Whitney-which Whitney cites in his last piece-that I'll get to shortly. Beyond a nuclear accident let's take a thumb nail look at the current reality.
Certainly Putin and Russia don't want war and certainly not a nuclear one. Neither do China or Iran. That leaves the US and its proxy renegade Israel as the two aggressors with nuclear weapons that have initiated conventional military conflicts sowing chaos in the world.
Once there was MAD, mutually assured destruction, the idea that prevented a nuclear confrontation between the US and the USSR during the cold war whereby each side recognized a nuclear first strike was inconceivable as it would bring an immediate retaliatory strike assuring its own annihilation.
That concept may be dead with the US developing a "full spectrum dominance" capability i.e. complete dominance in the seas, air, space and cyberspace where it could launch a first strike missile attack while preventing a retaliatory strike before it could be launched on the US and Europe.
Meanwhile Russia is not standing idly by cringing in fear of the Pentagon and its neo-con inspired planning.
According to Pepe Escobar "Russia's S-500 anti missile missiles and anti-aircraft missiles can intercept any existing ICBM, cruise missile, or aircraft. S-500's travel at 15,480 miles an hour; reach an altitude of 115 miles; travel horizontally 2,174 miles; and can intercept up to ten incoming missiles. They simply cannot be stopped by any American anti-missile system".  Escobar puts it operational in 2017.
Although I have written previously  no ABM system would be capable of defending against MIRV'd, Multiple Independently Targeted Re-Entry Vehicles, apparently that idea has been trumped by the new Russian S-500 system.
That fact, as there's little reason to doubt the credibility of Escobar and his sources, means full spectrum dominance is a hyped fantasy cooked up by the crazed minds in "official" Washington.
Demonizing Putin, attempting to provoke him to invade Ukraine, accusing him of sending Russian troops into Eastern Ukraine, arming the ethnic Russian speaking Ukrainian's who defend their land in opposition to the post coup regime in Kiev, place sanctions on Russia for inciting the crisis in Ukraine, moving NATO eastward to Russia's borders-which Bush I Secretary of State James Baker concurred with Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991 that "NATO wouldn't move one inch eastward" if Gorbachev wouldn't interfere with the re-unification of Germany; but later betrayed by Clinton and Bush II to expand NATO including the old Warsaw Pact countries of Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, attempting but failing in Georgia-and now behind the coup in Ukraine establishing a virulent anti-Russian regime in Kiev, all to encircle Russia and force it to submit to US hegemony while saboteurs within Russia likely infiltrate Russian protest groups and possibly behind the recent murder of anti-Putin activist Boris Nemtsov, while US funded NGO's like NED, "National Endowment for Democracy" act to further roil the political scene, all in hopes of bringing regime change in Russia, is again a neo-con inspired fantasy.
To counteract the demonization of Putin he has moved to closer military, economic and trade ties with China with the recent $400 billion natural gas deal in Rubles and the Yuan, Russia supplying the S-400 ABM system to China and then the S-500 system once it becomes operational and now Russia removing its self imposed ban supplying Iran with the S-300 ABM system giving it protection against a possible attack on its nuclear facilities.
So whether there is a final nuclear deal between Iran and the P5&1 at the end of June there is reason to believe the US maybe-and it's a big maybe-could regain its senses and in the words of Mike Whitney "Washington needs to rethink its approach. Stop meddling and antagonism , rebuild relations through trade and mutual trust and accept the inevitability of imperial decline. Asia's star is rising just as America's is setting. Deal with it."
That's the necessary re-set Whitney puts so presciently and along with Escobar's analysis maybe there is hope for optimism.