A Fertile Field of Warheads.

NY Times nuclear proliferation graphic

The above graphic accompanies a compelling, recent New York Times piece on the history of nuclear proliferation, as documented in two new books: The Nuclear Express: A Political History of the Bomb and its Proliferation, by Thomas C. Reed and Danny B. Stillman, and The Bomb: A New History, by Stephen M. Younger.

The piece begins by quoting J. Robert Oppenheimer, scientific director of the Manhattan Project, which developed the first working atomic bomb. As the Times reports, Oppenheimer thought the technology would soon be held by every nation.

“They are not too hard to make,” he told his colleagues on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, N.M. “They will be universal if people wish to make them universal.”

The piece then, in some detail, looks at the spread of weapons, and the forces that both grew atomic arsenals and forbade them. Certainly, the area of highest concern on the graphic, to proliferation experts, remains the far right section of nuclear aspirants, any and all of them, but particularly those without warm feelings for our country IRAN. Before closing, the piece adds this pointed summary.

The take-home message of both books is quite the reverse of Oppenheimer’s grim forecast. But both caution that the situation has reached a delicate stage — with a second age of nuclear proliferation close at hand — and that missteps now could hurt terribly in the future.

An understatement if ever there was one.



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