Why do countries develop nuclear weapons—and what is being done to stop the spread of these weapons?
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 stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. Nonproliferation—using tools and policies to diminish or eliminate this spread—is critical to safeguarding life as we know it.
Discouraging countries from developing nuclear weapons while promoting the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes—such as energy generation and medical research—has been the main challenge world leaders have grappled with since the United States detonated the first nuclear weapons more than seventy years ago. With growing security threats from nuclear-capable countries, nuclear nonproliferation remains a critical issue today.