Sharp changes are afoot throughout the globe. Demographics are shifting, technology is advancing at unprecedented rates, and these changes are being felt everywhere. How should we develop strategies to deal with this emerging new world? We can begin by understanding it. First, there is the changing composition of the world population, which will have a profound impact on societies. Developed countries are experiencing falling fertility rates and increasing life expectancy. As working-age populations shrink and pensions and care costs for the elderly rise, it becomes harder for governments to afford other productive investments.
The dual nature of nuclear fission—both risk and opportunity—was recognized almost immediately after the seminal physics discoveries of the late 1930s and was articulated as a matter of policy in Eisenhower’s consequential Atoms for Peace speech in 1953. The following years and decades saw both the continued build-up of nuclear weapons arsenals, eventually reaching tens of thousands of weapons, and Western assistance to Iran, India, Pakistan, Israel, and others in starting nuclear reactor programs, often with the supply of high-enriched uranium (HEU) for fuel. The irony of having U.S.-supplied weapons-useable material in HEU fuel sitting in Tehran even today is not lost on many participants in the non-proliferation dialogue.