Simply put, a nuclear war could end most life on Earth. That’s why a top priority for the United States and other countries is nuclear nonproliferation, or preventing the production and spread of nuclear weapons. Nonproliferation is critical to safeguarding life as we know it.

What is nuclear proliferation? What is nonproliferation?

In foreign policy, “proliferation” most commonly refers to the spread or increase of nuclear weapons, and, sometimes, other destructive military technologies and systems. “Nonproliferation refers to the tools and policies used to mitigate that spread.

Discouraging countries from developing nuclear weapons while promoting nuclear technology use for peaceful purposes—such as energy generation and medical research—has been the main challenge of world leaders since the United States detonated the first nuclear weapons more than seventy years ago. Today, with growing security threats from nuclear-capable countries, nuclear nonproliferation remains a critical issue.

This module on nuclear proliferation will

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