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Stemming Nuclear Proliferation: Prevent and Manage the Rise of New Nuclear Powers

Michael E. O’Hanlon and Stephen P. Cohen

In the 2004 presidential race, John Kerry and George W. Bush agreed that nuclear proliferation was the top security threat facing the United States. They were right then, and the same thing will be true in 2008 and beyond. Preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction must be a policy priority.  The twin challenge is to prevent more countries from acquiring nuclear weapons while also coping with countries that already have them. The next President should enhance adherence to international non-proliferation agreements; expand threat reduction efforts; and place less emphasis on the role of nuclear arms in protecting America.

Recommendations
Among other measures, our next president should:

  • undertake a major international push to convince North Korea to abandon external threats and internal repression and become a more normal regime, like Vietnam, promising more help if it will move in that direction while creating the basis for more pressure if it does not
  • employ economic coercion to move Iran off its nuclear course, even though this could drive up global oil prices
  • make the Bush Administration’s recent agreement with India the basis for bringing the two non-NPT but nuclear capable states, Israel and Pakistan, into a non-proliferation “half-way house,” supporting civilian uses of nuclear energy in exchange for firmer controls on proliferation and
  • become generally more actively involved in South Asia, in order to keep Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and technologies under control and reduce tensions in the Subcontinent

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Opportunity 08 aims to help 2008 presidential candidates and the public focus on critical issues facing the nation, presenting policy ideas on a wide array of domestic and foreign policy questions. The project is committed to providing both independent policy solutions and background material on issues of concern to voters.

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