Nuclear Threats

Although the United States and Russia have greatly reduced their stockpiles of nuclear weapons over the last two decades, there is still the lingering—and spreading—threat of nuclear annihilation.

The number of nuclear weapon states has grown to nine from six since the end of the Cold War, with India, Pakistan, and North Korea joining the club. Iran’s nuclear program is believed by some to be within months of weaponizing. Meanwhile the U.S., Russia, China and other nuclear countries are competing with each other to sell “civilian” nuclear technology to eager buyers in unstable parts of the world. India, Pakistan, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates are among the customers.

While Russia’s shrinking nuclear arsenal is now thought to be relatively secure, the 9/11 terror attacks and revelations about the activities of the A.Q. Khan network have heightened concerns that weapons or fissile material could fall into the hands of rogue states or extremist groups. That risk has been increased by access to technologies that are enabling nuclear newcomers to create smaller, easily transportable weapons—so-called battlefield weapons—and by the worrisome rise of military doctrines that lower the threshold of actually using nuclear weapons.

Through Nuclear Threats, Pulitzer Center journalists examine the emerging threats of the post-9/11 era, from an alarming new arms race between India and Pakistan to the role of the U.S. and Russia as suppliers and the spread of supposedly peaceful nuclear technology to some of the world’s most dangerous neighborhoods.

Nuclear Threats

Nuclear Winter

Cold War scientists once worried that a nuclear war could plunge the world into a deadly ice age. But why, three decades later, does Nuclear Winter still resonate?

The Return of Cold War Nuclear Fears

Ongoing U.S.-Russia tensions around Ukraine have spilled over into the nuclear weapons realm, putting at risk decades of post-Cold War effort to foster nuclear predictability, stability, and safety.

Rearming: America's New Nuclear Arsenal

The Pentagon plans to replace the current nuclear arsenal, including 12 new nuclear armed submarines in the coming decades. But can the United States afford this and is it necessary?

The Ends of the Earth

Seven decades ago the Marshall Islands felt what nuclear war would be like. This century they're grappling with the legacy of U.S. bomb tests—while staring down a new threat driven by climate change.

Global concern

In this lesson, students discuss the reporting project "Nuclear Winter."

Nuclear Agreement with Iran

This global affairs lesson plan explores how Iranians from a variety of backgrounds view the nuclear agreement between Iran and the United States and connect the agreement to students’ own lives.

News Bite 7: Modernizing Nuclear Weapons

In this lesson, students will watch a 9-minute video and answer questions that will demonstrate their comprehension of its presentation of the complex problem of nuclear weapons.

This Week: Stumbling Toward Nuclear War

This week: rising nuclear tensions through North Korea's eyes, refugees converting to Christianity, and how the exotic pet trade enables illegal wildlife practices in China.