|United States||Soviet Union||United States||Soviet Union||United States||Soviet Union|
Initial nuclear proliferationEdit
In addition to the United States and the Soviet Union, three other nations, the United Kingdom, People's Republic of China, and France also developed far smaller nuclear stockpiles. In 1952, the United Kingdom became the third nation to possess nuclear weapons when it detonated an atomic bomb in Operation Hurricane on October 3, 1952, which had a yield of 25 kilotons. After major contributions to the Manhattan Project by both Canadian and British governments, the 1946 Atomic Energy Act prohibited multi-national cooperation on nuclear projects. Britain did not begin planning the development of their own nuclear weapon until January, 1947. Because of Britain’s small size, they decided to test their bomb on the Monte Bello Islands, off the coast of Australia. Following this successful test, under the leadership of Winston Churchill, Britain decided to develop and test a hydrogen bomb. The first successful hydrogen bomb test occurred on November 8, 1957, which had a yield of 1.8 megatons. An amendment to the Atomic energy Act in 1958 allowed nuclear cooperation once again, and British-U.S. nuclear programs resumed. During the Cold War, British nuclear deterrence came from submarines and nuclear-armed aircraft. The Resolution class ballistic missile submarines armed with the American-built Polaris missile provided the sea deterrent, while aircraft such as the Avro Vulcan, SEPECAT Jaguar, Panavia Tornado and several other Royal Air Force strike aircraft carrying WE.177 gravity bomb provided the air deterrent.
France became the fourth nation to possess nuclear weapons on February 13, 1960, when the atomic bomb Gerboise Bleue was detonated in Algeria, then still a French colony [Formally a part of the Metropolitan France.] France began making plans for a nuclear-weapons program shortly after the Second World War, but the program did not actually begin until the late 1950s. Eight years later, France conducted its first thermonuclear test above Fangatuafa Atoll. It had a yield of 2.6 megatons. This bomb significantly contaminated the atoll with radiation for six years, making it off-limits to humans. During the Cold War, the French nuclear deterrent was centered around the Force de frappe, a nuclear triad consisting of Dassault Mirage IV bombers carrying such nuclear weapons as the AN-22 gravity bomb and the ASMP stand-off attack missile, Pluton and Hades ballistic missiles, and the Redoutable class submarine armed with strategic nuclear missiles.
The People's Republic of China became the fifth nuclear power on October 16, 1964 when it detonated a 25 kiloton uranium-235 bomb in a test codenamed 596 at Lop Nur. In the late 1950s, China began developing nuclear weapons with substantial Soviet assistant in exchange for uranium ore. However, the Sino-Soviet ideological split in the late 1950s developed problems between China and the Soviet Union. This caused the Soviets to cease helping China develop nuclear weapons. However, China continued developing nuclear weapons without Soviet support and made remarkable progress in the 1960s. Due to Soviet/Chinese tensions, the Chinese might have used nuclear weapons against either the United States or the Soviet Union in the event of a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union. During the Cold War, the Chinese nuclear deterrent consisted of gravity bombs carried aboard H-6 bomber aircraft, missile systems such as the DF-2, DF-3, and DF-4, and in the later stages of the Cold War, the Type 092 ballistic missile submarine. On June 14, 1967, China detonated its first hydrogen bomb.
Cuban Missile CrisisEdit
Shortly after Fulgencio Batista took control of the Cuban government and became dictator, revolutionaries started to emerge to challenge Batista. However, it wasn't until December 2, 1956, when Fidel Castro landed on Cuba aboard the Granma that the resistance blossomed into an armed revolt. The Soviet Union supported and praised Castro and his resistance. On January 1, 1959, the Cuban government fell, propelling Castro into power, and was recognized by the Soviet government on January 10. When the United States began boycotting Cuban sugar, the Soviet Union began purchasing large quantities to support the Cuban economy in return for fuel and eventually placing nuclear ballistic missiles on Cuban soil. These missiles would be capable of reaching the United States very quickly. On October 14, 1962, an American spy plane discovered these nuclear missile sites under construction in Cuba. President Kennedy immediately called a series of meetings for a small group of senior officials to debate the crisis. The group was split between a militaristic solution and a diplomatic one. President Kennedy ordered a naval blockage around Cuba and all military forces to DEFCON 3. As tensions increased, Kennedy eventually ordered U.S. military forces to DEFCON 2. This was the closest the world has been to a nuclear war. Eventually, on October 26, through much discussion between U.S and Soviet officials, Khrushchev announced that the Soviet Union would withdraw all missiles from Cuba. Shortly after, the U.S. withdrew all their nuclear missiles from Turkey, which had threatened the Soviets.
Economic problems caused by the arms race in both powers, combined with China's new role and the ability to verify disarmament led to a number of arms control agreements beginning in the 1970s. This period known as détente allowed both states to reduce their spending on weapons systems. SALT I and SALT II limited the size of the states' arsenals. Bans on nuclear testing, anti-ballistic missile systems, and weapons in space all attempted to limit the expansion of the arms race through the Partial Test Ban Treaty.
In 1958, both the U.S. and Soviet Union agreed to informally suspend nuclear testing. However, this agreement was ended when the Soviets resumed testing in 1961, followed by a series of nuclear tests conducted by the U.S. These events led to much political fallout, as well as the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Something had to be done to ease the great tensions between these two countries, so on October 10, 1963, the Limited Test Ban Treated (LTBT) was signed. This was an agreement between the U.S., Soviet Union, and the U.K., which significantly restricted nuclear testing. All atmospheric, underwater, and outer space nuclear testing were agreed to be halted, but countries were still allowed to test underground. An additional 113 countries have signed this treaty since 1963.
In November, 1969, Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) begun. This was primarily due to the economic impact that nuclear testing and production had on both U.S. and Soviet economies. The SALT I Treaty, which was signed in May, 1972, produced an agreement on two significant documents. These were the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) and the Interim Agreement on the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. The ABM treaty limited each country to two ABM sites, while the Interim Agreement froze each country's number of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) at current levels for five years. This treaty significantly reduced nuclear-related costs as well as the risk of nuclear war. However, SALT I failed to address how many nuclear warheads could be placed on one missile. A new technology, known as multiple-independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV), allowed single missiles to hold and launch multiple nuclear missiles at targets while in mid-air. Over the next 10 years, the Soviet Union and U.S added 12,000 nuclear warheads to their already built arsenals. Throughout the 1970s, both the Soviet Union and United States replaced old missiles and warheads with newer, more powerful and effective ones. This continued to worsen Soviet-U.S relations. On June 18, 1979, the SALT II treaty was signed in Vienna. This treaty limited both sides' nuclear arsenals and technology. However, this treaty as well as the era of the détente ended with the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan in January, 1980. The United States once again significantly increased military and nuclear spending, while the Soviets were unable to respond and continued to pursue the détente. These treaties were only partially successful. Both states continued building massive numbers of nuclear weapons and researched more effective technology. Both superpowers retained the ability to destroy each other many times over.
Reagan and the Strategic Defense InitiativeEdit
Towards the end of Jimmy Carter's presidency, and continued strongly through the subsequent presidency of Ronald Reagan, the United States rejected disarmament and tried to restart the arms race through the production of new weapons and anti-weapons systems. The central part of this strategy was the Strategic Defense Initiative, a space based anti-ballistic missile system derided as "Star Wars" by its critics. However, the SDI would require technology that had not yet been developed, or even researched. This system would require both space and earth based laser battle stations. It would also need sensors on the ground, in the air, and in space with radar, optical, and infrared technology to detect incoming missiles. During the second part of 1980s, the Soviet economy was teetering towards collapse and was unable to match American arms spending. The Soviets feared the SDI because the U.S. would have an edge if it ever came to nuclear war. Numerous negotiations by Mikhail Gorbachev attempted to come to agreements on reducing nuclear stockpiles, but the most radical were rejected by Reagan as they would also prohibit his SDI program. However, due to enormous costs and far too complex technology for its time, the project and research was cancelled.
The end of the Cold WarEdit
During the mid-1980s, the U.S-Soviet relations significantly improved. Mikhail Gorbachev assumed control of the Soviet Union after the deaths of several former Soviet leaders, and announced a new era of perestroika and glasnost, meaning restructuring and openness respectively. Gorbachev proposed a 50% reduction of nuclear weapons for both the U.S and Soviet Union at the meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland in October 1986. However, the proposal was refused due to disagreements over Reagan's SDI. Instead, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was signed on December 8, 1987 in Washington, which eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons.
In the late 1980s, after the signing of this treaty, much of the Soviet Union began to declare independence and slowly became free of Soviet influence. One of the most iconic events of the collapse of the Soviet Union was the destruction of the Berlin Wall on November 10, 1989. On December 8, 1991, the Soviet Union dissolved and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) was established. This event marked the end of the 45 year long Cold War.
With the end of the Cold War the United States, and especially Russia, cut down on nuclear weapons spending. Fewer new systems were developed and both arsenals have shrunk. But both countries still maintain stocks of nuclear missiles numbering in the thousands. In the USA, stockpile stewardship programs have taken over the role of maintaining the aging arsenal.
After the Cold War ended, a large amount of resources and money which was once spent on developing nuclear weapons in Soviet Union was then spent on repairing the environmental damage produced by the nuclear arms race, and almost all former production sites are now major cleanup sites. In the USA, the plutonium production facility at Hanford, Washington and the plutonium pit fabrication facility at Rocky Flats, Colorado are among the most polluted sites.
United States policy and strategy regarding nuclear proliferation was outlined in 1995 in the document "Essentials of Post–Cold War Deterrence".
Despite efforts made in cleaning up uranium sites, significant problems stemming from the legacy of uranium development still exist today on the Navajo Nation in the states of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. Hundreds of abandoned mines have not been cleaned up and present environmental and health risks in many Navajo communities.
India and PakistanEdit
In South Asia, India and Pakistan have also engaged in a technological nuclear arms race since 1970s. The nuclear competition started in 1974 with India detonating the device, codename Smiling Buddha, at the Pokhran region of the Rajasthan state. The Indian government termed this test as a "peaceful nuclear explosion", but according to independent sources, it was actually part of an accelerated covert nuclear program of India. This explosion surprised and alarmed the world who had been giving the nuclear technology to the UN for civilian, energy producing and peaceful purposes.
This test generated great concern and doubts in Pakistan, with fear it would be at the mercy of its long–time arch rival. Pakistan had its own covert atomic bomb projects in 1972 which extended over many years since the first Indian weapon was detonated. After the 1974 test, Pakistan's atomic bomb program picked up a great speed and accelerated its atomic project to successfully build its own atomic weapons program. In the last few decades of the 20th century, India and Pakistan began to develop nuclear-capable rockets and nuclear military technologies. Finally, in 1998 India, under Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, test detonated 5 more nuclear weapons. While the international response to the detonation was muted, domestic pressure within Pakistan began to build steam and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered the test, detonated 6 nuclear war weapons in a tit-for-tat fashion and to act as a deterrent.
- Nuclear warfare
- Essentials of Post–Cold War Deterrence
- Deterrence theory
- Nuclear disarmament
- Nuclear-free zone
- Space race
- TNT equivalent
- Brinkmanship (Cold War)
- ↑ Key Issues: Nuclear Weapons: History: Pre Cold War: Manhattan Project
- ↑ The Soviet Nuclear Weapons Program
- ↑ The Potsdam Conference between allied forces
- ↑ Atomic Bomb: Decision - Truman Tells Stalin, July 24, 1945
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Potsdam Note (Animation)
- ↑ Klaus Fuchs: Atom Bomb Spy
- ↑ Los Alamos National Laboratory: History: People of Wartime Los Alamos: Spies
- ↑ "Atomic Espionage". http://www.atomicarchive.com/History/coldwar/page09.shtml.
- ↑ "The Beginnings of the Cold War". http://www.atomicarchive.com/History/coldwar/page01.shtml. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
- ↑ "Operation Crossroads". http://www.atomicarchive.com/History/coldwar/page02.shtml. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
- ↑ "The Mike Test". http://www.atomicarchive.com/History/coldwar/page05.shtml. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
- ↑ "The Soviet Atomic Bomb". http://www.atomicarchive.com/History/coldwar/page03.shtml. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
- ↑ "The Bravo Test". http://www.atomicarchive.com/History/coldwar/page06.shtml.
- ↑ "The Soviet Response". http://www.atomicarchive.com/History/coldwar/page07.shtml.
- ↑ scramble
- ↑ Gerald Segal, The Simon & Schuster Guide to the World Today, (Simon & Schuster, 1987), p. 82
- ↑ Edwin Bacon, Mark Sandle, "Brezhnev Reconsidered", Studies in Russian and East European History and Society (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003)
- ↑ United Kingdom Nuclear Forces
- ↑ China Nuclear Forces
- ↑ France Nuclear Forces
- ↑ A toxic legacy : British nuclear weapons testing in Australia [in: Wayward governance : illegality and its control in the public sector]
- ↑ "Britain Goes Nuclear". http://www.atomicarchive.com/History/coldwar/page10.shtml.
- ↑ Chapitre II, Les premiers essais Français au Sahara : 1960-1966 Senat.fr (in French)
- ↑ "France Joins the Club". http://www.atomicarchive.com/History/coldwar/page11.shtml.
- ↑ China's Nuclear Weapons
- ↑ "Chinese Nuclear Weapons". http://www.atomicarchive.com/History/coldwar/page12.shtml.
- ↑ Theater Missile Systems that men had - China Nuclear Forces
- ↑ "Cuban Missile Crisis". http://www.atomicarchive.com/History/coldwar/page13.shtml.
- ↑ "Limited Test Ban Treaty". http://www.atomicarchive.com/History/coldwar/page14.shtml.
- ↑ "Easing the Tensions". http://www.atomicarchive.com/History/coldwar/page16.shtml.
- ↑ "The Arms Race Resumes". http://www.atomicarchive.com/History/coldwar/page18.shtml.
- ↑ "Reagan's Star Wars". http://www.atomicarchive.com/History/coldwar/page20.shtml.
- ↑ "The End of the Cold War". http://www.atomicarchive.com/History/coldwar/page22.shtml.
- ↑ India's Nuclear Weapons Program - Smiling Buddha: 1974
- ↑ FIles. "1974 Nuclear files". Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Nuclear files archives. http://www.nuclearfiles.org/menu/timeline/timeline_page.php?year=1974. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
Boughton, G. J. (1974). Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs (16th ed.). Miami, United States of America: Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Miami.
Brown, A. Reform, Coup and Collapse: The End of the Soviet State. BBC History. Retrieved November 22, 2012, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/coldwar/soviet_end_01.shtml
Cold War: A Brief History. (n.d.). Atomic Archive. Retrieved November 16, 2012, from http://www.atomicarchive.com/History/coldwar/index.shtml
Doty, P., Carnesale, A., & Nacht, M. (1976, October). The Race to Control Nuclear Arms.
Jones, R. W. (1998). Pakistan's Nuclear Posture: Arms Race Instabilities in South Asia. Joyce, A., Bates Graber, R., Hoffman, T. J., Paul Shaw, R., & Wong, Y. (1989, February). The Nuclear Arms Race: An Evolutionary Perspective. Maloney, S. M. (2007). Learning to love the bomb: Canada's nuclear weapons during the Cold War. Washington, D.C: Potomac Books.
May, E. R. (n.d.). John F Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis. BBC History. Retrieved November 22, 2012,from http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/coldwar/kennedy_cuban_missile_01.shtml
Nuclear arms race. (n.d.). In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved November 16, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_arms_race
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Van, C. M. (1993). Nuclear proliferation and the future of conflict. New York, United States: Free Press.
- "Presidency in the Nuclear Age", conference and forum at the JFK Library, Boston, October 12, 2009. Four panels: "The Race to Build the Bomb and the Decision to Use It", "Cuban Missile Crisis and the First Nuclear Test Ban Treaty", "The Cold War and the Nuclear Arms Race", and "Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism, and the Presidency".
- Erik Ringmar, "The Recognition Game: Soviet Russia Against the West," Cooperation & Conflict, 37:2, 2002. pp. 115–36. -- the arms race between the superpowers explained through the concept of recognition.
- Annotated bibliography on the nuclear arms race from the Alsos Digital Library for Nuclear Issues
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