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(p. 195) 11. The Second Nuclear Age: Nuclear Weapons in the Twenty-first Century 

(p. 195) 11. The Second Nuclear Age: Nuclear Weapons in the Twenty-first Century
Chapter:
(p. 195) 11. The Second Nuclear Age: Nuclear Weapons in the Twenty-first Century
Author(s):

C. Dale Walton

DOI:
10.1093/hepl/9780198708919.003.0012
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date: 25 August 2019

This chapter examines how nuclear weapons have influenced international politics, both during and after the cold war. In particular, it distinguishes between the spread of nuclear weapons to more states, which poses an increasing threat to international security, and the decline in the absolute number of nuclear weapons due to the reductions in U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals. The chapter first provides an overview of the First Nuclear Age — which lasted approximately from 1945 to the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union — before discussing the risks in the Second Nuclear Age. It also considers other contemporary issues such as ballistic missile defences, the cultural dimensions of nuclear weapons acquisition, and the possibility of using nuclear weapons for terrorism. The chapter concludes by reflecting on the prospects for a Third Nuclear Age.

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