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Overcoming Nuclear Dangers

David Cortright
Policy Analysis Brief
November 2007

Concerns about nuclear weapons have focused primarily on the spread of the bomb—to North Korea, Pakistan, India, and perhaps Iran—and on the terrifying prospect that Al Qaeda might acquire such weapons. Nuclear dangers, however, are not only "out there," they also exist in the policies of the United States and Russia, which continue to maintain thousands of nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert. Russia has abandoned its "no-first-use" policy and is replacing its aging arsenal, while the United States has called for the possible first use of nuclear weapons against nonnuclear actors. This paper probes the sources of instability that are driving proliferation and continued reliance on nuclear weapons by major world powers. It reviews the recent use of diplomacy to resolve proliferation disputes and explores the link between regional and global disarmament. It traces the evolving political legitimacy and technical feasibility of nuclear weapons abolition, and concludes with suggestions to realize a future free of nuclear weapons.

Also:
Listen to audio from "Overcoming Nuclear Danger in US Policy: The Citizen Role," an April 2008 event featuring David Cortright here.

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