The diffusion of nuclear weapons to additional countries might come about through indigenous development programs, through assistance from the present nuclear powers, or through a combination of both. This diffusion, sometimes called the "Nth country" problem, has been of great concern in discussions of disarmament and U.S. nuclear assistance programs. It has been widely held that the spread of nuclear capabilities is disadvantageous for U.S. security and that an effort to stop it should receive highest priority in disarmament policies. It is the purpose of our study to examine the validity of this proposition. To do so it will be necessary to estimate the political and military effects that might arise from a further diffusion of nuclear capabilities. Such an undertaking is necessarily fraught with great uncertainties.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation research memorandum series. The Research Memorandum was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 1973 that represented working papers meant to report current results of RAND research to appropriate audiences.
This research in the public interest was supported by RAND, using discretionary funds made possible by the generosity of RAND's donors, the fees earned on client-funded research, and independent research and development (IR&D) funds provided by the Department of Defense.
Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.