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Cold War And The Arms Race

1730 words - 7 pages

COLD War and the Arms Race

When President Truman authorized the use of two nuclear weapons in 1945 against the Japanese in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end World War II, the nature of international security was changed irreversibly. At that time, the United States had what was said to have a monopoly of atomic bombs. Soon thereafter, the Soviet Union began working on atomic weaponry. In 1949, it had already detonated it first atomic bomb and tensions began to heat up between the two countries. With the information that the Soviets had tested their first bomb, the United States began work on more powerful weapons1, and a fight for nuclear superiority had begun.

In the 1950’s, the United States "announced a policy of massive retaliation - a doctrine whereby the United States might respond with nuclear weapons to any Soviet challenge anywhere in the world," (Weapons and Arms Control) Despite America's doctrine and huge lead in the arms race, it achieved little success and did not threaten or suppress the Soviets from continuing to create nuclear weapons.

After the Korean War, it was believed that the United States’ nuclear build-up had played a key role in achieving armistice. At this time, early in President Eisenhower's term in office, he had announced his policy of nuclear superiority. During this time period of nuclear build up, the Soviet Union began to find ways to overcome deficiencies in their strategic technologies2. Not soon after Eisenhower made his policy known, Russia became the first country to successfully test ICBMs, or Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. These tactical nuclear weapons are land based rocket propelled vehicles capable of intercontinental range in excess of 4000 nautical miles. These missiles are housed in a nuclear silo, a vertical underground deployment system. Negotiations began in 1958 to ban nuclear testing, but when Eisenhower left office in 1960, little had been accomplished for means of arms control. Many new talks between the two countries would come along with many new advancements in weaponry.

President Kennedy came to office with warnings of a missile gap. The Soviets had achieved or were achieving a significant advantage in strategic nuclear weapons. Though tensions ran even higher, "Eisenhower’s strategy of massive retaliation made little sense and did not account for the rapidly growing Soviet nuclear arsenal4. Kennedy's nuclear strategy became known as flexible response. The idea was to acquire the military forces that could deal flexibility with varying levels of Soviet Aggression3. The most serious confrontation between Russia and the US was the Cuban Missile Crisis. (Link to Stephanie's page) Soviet leader Khrushchev attempted to place intermediate range missiles in Cuba. Kennedy responded by imposing a quarantine on Cuba. This resulted in the removal of the Soviet missiles and led to Kennedy making the decision to dismantle U.S. missiles based in Turkey. Some analysts...

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