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One of the more troubling of post–Cold War international trends has been the advent of a ‘‘second nuclear age.’’ Rather than losing their relevance in these years, nuclear arms have become a new danger in this era, which is heralded in particular by the rise of Asian military power. Michael Krepon of the Stimson Center observed in 2002 that ‘‘this is the most dangerous time since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. And the dangers are compounded because we are not just worried about one country. We are worried about Iran, Iraq, North Korea, and the Indian subcontinent.’’
A new emphasis on the acquisition of nuclear weapons is evident in the Middle East and East Asia. With Japan under growing threats from neighboring countries, increased attention is being paid to the possibility of even its acquiring a nuclear arsenal. The 2001 Nuclear Posture Review and the 2002 National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction indicate that Washington has taken these concerns seriously in considering its potential military options in these regions and elsewhere.