Published February 15, 2012 | By Ed Nagle
Not long after the dawn of the nuclear age, few experts were optimistic that the spread of nuclear weapons could be contained. In 1963 it was anticipated that fifteen to twenty nations would likely come to possess nuclear weapons, let alone nuclear power, by the 1970s.1 It is easy to lose sight of this in contemporary discussions on nuclear proliferation. Yet at present we are faced with renewed pressure from state and non-state actors who desire to acquire nuclear arms. The apparent success of North Korea and potential success of Iran have created new regional pressures that have the potential to greatly increase the number of nuclear weapons states to a point not unlike President John F. Kennedy’s grim prediction in 1963. The years since the end of the Cold War have seen not only a transformation of the security environment, but also an evolution in the means and motives for procuring nuclear arms.