Definition of Nuclear Proliferation

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What is the Definition of Nuclear Proliferation?

What is the Definition of Nuclear Proliferation?
How to identify and define nuclear proliferation is not as easy as one might think. South Africa, for example, was once a nuclear power and is no longer, having given its nuclear weapons program up. Iran aspires to become one. Libya almost became one and reversed course. India, Pakistan and North Korea are proud members of the nuclear club, despite international objections. Israel is a covert member, but won't talk about it.

Iraq's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction-believed by everybody, including strongman Saddam Hussein himself-stand as stark testimony to how confusion over this issue can lead to international conflict. Officially, under the terms of the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, only five nations are legally entitled to possess nuclear weapons: the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia and the People's Republic of China.

The simplest way, then, to define nuclear proliferation is by the terms of this treaty-i.e., any nation not agreeing to this treaty or not abiding by its terms is by definition engaging in nuclear proliferation. According to one expert, "Cold War-style deterrence and mutually assured destruction can no longer be the answer. At the same time, progress on non-proliferation in the traditional track of the Non-Proliferation Treaty seems to be bogging down."

There are military and diplomatic steps that can be taken to prevent further dangerous and destabilizing nuclear proliferation by rogue states and terrorist groups, including holding the legal line on any expansion beyond the five recognized nuclear powers under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. And there are at least nine other ways to help safeguard the future for our children.

For more information on how to define nuclear proliferation, read the article, "Ten Principles for Combating Nuclear Proliferation".