To what extent do you expect nuclear weapon proliferation to change in the next 20 years? 

This week we round out our consideration of nuclear weapons with the question ‘To what extent do you expect nuclear weapon proliferation to change in the next 20 years?

 There are, of course, no correct answers. But it is interesting to try. If you try, let us know what you think in the comments box.


My main concern is less nuclear proliferation among states, but rather non-state actors. In my view, ISIS, and other groups, represent perhaps the biggest global threat today. While Iran and North Korea certainly remain a threat, they are at least ‘fixed’ and locatable, and we have heard some positive movement coming from North Korea. The real danger however to me is not so much nuclear weapons as it is biological and chemical weapons that are far easier to make and disperse. Given this fact, I fear that bio-chemical weapons may well become the new nuclear bomb. 

Mike Ryder, Lancaster University 


Within 20 years, I would have expected Iran to have gained a nuclear weapon. Considering their regular breaching of previous nuclear deals, I am not surprised at their breaches of the current deal. This is aside from the fact that the current deal does not allow for inspection of military sites, so they could be developing bombs and just hiding them from inspectors well within the terms of their deal. 

For North Korea, I have no idea. If Trump’s surprisingly effective diplomacy actually works we could be looking at a de-nuclearised Korean peninsula. Or, a nuclear war. I don’t think anybody knows what will happen. 

However, because nuclear is such a large threat, I think it is generally pretty well maintained. I am far more concerned about powerful military (or dual-use) technologies proliferation to terrorist groups and other violent non-state actors. There is on predicting how this would play out when motives and operational capabilities of future terrorists cannot be predicted. All we know is that technology is democratising and de-centralising power, and that includes the possibility for violent action. 

Joshua Hughes, Lancaster University 

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