President Trump’s hostility to what he refers to as “so-called allies” and his embrace of the very dictators U.S. alliances are designed to defend against are leading allies and partners across the globe to wonder whether Washington can no longer be counted on. As in the past, regional threats are growing and the United States is once again planning to pull troops from allied territory. It should not come as a shock if a U.S. ally or partner were to determine today that it needed to launch, or relaunch, its own effort to develop nuclear weapons or the capability to quickly build them. 

Since the 1990s, America has become accustomed to thinking about nuclear proliferation as a problem associated with “rogue states”: Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Iran, and Syria. But throughout much of the nuclear age, U.S. allies, partners, and non-aligned countries were of greatest proliferation concern. West Germany, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, Sweden, Egypt, Brazil, and others explored or pursued nuclear weapons—and India, Pakistan, and Israel acquired them.

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