Proliferation of nuclear weapons: opportunities for control and abolition

Am J Public Health. 2007 Sep;97(9):1589-94. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2006.100602. Epub 2007 Jul 31.


Nuclear weapons pose a particularly destructive threat. Prevention of the proliferation and use of nuclear weapons is urgently important to public health. "Horizontal" proliferation refers to nation-states or nonstate entities that do not have, but are acquiring, nuclear weapons or developing the capability and materials for producing them. "Vertical" proliferation refers to nation-states that do possess nuclear weapons and are increasing their stockpiles of these weapons, improving the technical sophistication or reliability of their weapons, or developing new weapons. Because nation-states or other entities that wish to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons need methods for delivering those weapons, proliferation of delivery mechanisms must also be prevented. Controlling proliferation--and ultimately abolishing nuclear weapons--involves national governments, intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental and professional organizations, and society at large.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Global Health*
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Interinstitutional Relations
  • International Agencies
  • International Cooperation* / history
  • International Cooperation* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Internationality
  • Nuclear Warfare / history
  • Nuclear Warfare / prevention & control*
  • Nuclear Warfare / statistics & numerical data
  • Organizations
  • Politics
  • Public Health / history*
  • Public Policy*
  • Social Responsibility
  • United States
  • World War II