A New Nuclear Age

Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the possibility of nuclear war felt like a problem of days past. Now, as great-power competition heats up, the potential for nuclear conflict seems higher than at any point in decades. How did the nuclear taboo fade, and what does nuclear proliferation mean for the United States?

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  • Gabrielle Sierra
    Director, Podcasting

Asher Ross - Supervising Producer

Markus Zakaria - Audio Producer and Sound Designer

Molly McAnany - Associate Podcast Producer

Episode Guests
  • J. Andrés Gannon
    Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow
  • Rupal N. Mehta

Show Notes

Nuclear weapons never went away, but as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine extends into its second year, nuclear worries are making a comeback. Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly threatened to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine, reigniting concerns about nuclear weapons and proliferation. Elsewhere, China has built up its own nuclear arsenal while ratcheting up tensions with Taiwan, and North Korea and Iran have continued to develop their own nuclear programs. Meanwhile, U.S. allies and bad actors alike could be seeking nuclear weapons of their own, and long-standing nuclear arms control agreements remain suspended.


A map of Europe showing the location of six U.S. nuclear weapon storage sites in U.S. allies, and nine Russian nuclear weapon storage sites in western Russia.

As U.S. officials confront these and other nuclear challenges, they will be tasked with preventing further proliferation that increases the likelihood of mutually assured destruction. How serious is today’s nuclear threat, and what are the prospects for global denuclearization?


A chart of the number of stockpiled nuclear warheads by country, showing Russia and the U.S. with far more than any other country.


From CFR


Richard Haass, “The New Nuclear Era” 


Jonathan Masters and Sabine Baumgartner, “Timeline: U.S.-Russia Nuclear Arms Control


Jonathan Masters and Will Merrow, “Nuclear Weapons in Europe: Mapping U.S. and Russian Deployments” 


Kali Robinson, “What Is the Iran Nuclear Deal?” 



From Our Guests


J. Andrés Gannon, “If Russia Goes Nuclear: Three Scenarios for the Ukraine War


Rupal N. Mehta, Delaying Doomsday: The Politics of Nuclear Reversal 



Read More


Jonathan Tirone, “U.S. Sees a New Era of Nuclear Risk Dawning in China-Russia Cooperation,” Bloomberg


What Happens if Nuclear Weapons Are Used?,” International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons



Watch and Listen


Plan A,” Princeton University Program on Science and Global Security


U.S. Preparedness for Nuclear and Radiological Threats


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