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The threat of nuclear weapons did not fade away with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Rather, the geopolitical disorders of the post-Cold War era and the rise of global terrorism have ensured that they remain conspicuously present on the world stage as a serious international concern. With the eight or nine nuclear powers maintaining about 27,000 nuclear weapons in their arsenals to this day, it is clear that they are here to stay for the foreseeable future. The primary mission of these nuclear forces has been and remains deterrence. Using plain language rather than policy jargon, this historically focused book shows how nuclear deterrence has worked rather than how it should. It then shows how the growing threat of nuclear proliferation threatens to create a far more complicated international situation largely because of the attendant proliferation of state nuclear deterrents.