Since the beginning of the nuclear age proliferation, first confined to American concerns over the USSR achieving their own nuclear technology, has been a major concern.
Since 2001, non-proliferation has become an important theme of United States security and one that the United States has taken the lead. Despite this, there are still sources of nuclear proliferation throughout the world.
A.Q. Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist who was instrumental in building Pakistan into a nuclear weapons state, created a network of suppliers and transporters used to ferry components around the world.
Recently, the danger has become more acute; in 2009, North Korea detonated two nuclear devices and the IAEA’s 2011 Safeguards Report described Iranian work on exploding bridge-wire detonators, high-speed electronic switches and spark gaps, along with other nuclear weapons components.
The spread of nuclear weapons can destabilize regions, heighten tensions or conflicts, or lead to ultimate destruction through nuclear terrorism.
The United States is committed to not letting rouge or unstable countries acquire nuclear weapons and there is bipartisan support for President Obama’s commitment to the prevention of proliferation as a centerpiece of American defense policy.
The American Security Project believes that non-proliferation and nuclear security should be one of the United State’s top national security priorities. We have a robust program examining the issues associated with non-proliferation and its impact on American security.
In a changing world, the United States must continually re-evaluate the nature and extent of modern threats, as well as the best ways to adapt available tools or create new ones.
Preventing threats from rogue states or terrorist groups in the future will depend on careful leadership and cooperation from all like-minded states working together to enforce common norms.
Despite widespread fears that agreements designed to reduce the amount of proliferation such as the NPT are collapsing under the weight of new illicit nuclear weapons programs, the vast majority of countries have not built nuclear weapons. More countries have abandoned nuclear weapons programs than initiated them since the treaty came into force.