Arms Race Essay

Submitted By mutatedhorse
Words: 1722
Pages: 7

Attempts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons largely revolved around treaties, in which multiple nations agreed to either reduce or take some other form of action that slowed the development of nuclear weapons. From the essences of the problem, the cold war race, to the desire by other countries to have defence parity with other countries; nuclear weapons were always going to spread. Attempts where made; starting with the introduction of MAD principles, the NPT treaty, the Partial ban of testing and finally with SALT. Yet nuclear development still continued throughout the period. Thus in this essay we will analyse the extent to which it was slowed/limited by these efforts.
Prior to August 29 1949, The USA was the only nation perceived to have access to nuclear weaponry. It was on this date however that the Soviet Union tested their first nuclear device. From this point on, the two countries had realistically begun their arms race. What must be highlighted is that this was already a ‘Cold War’ period and thus Nuclear Weaponry development slotted right into the arsenal of means the two countries would use in their Cold War Struggle. Thus As soon as the soviets had employed their new device, huge increases in USA arms spending was seen. Up to this point, the USA only had a few bombs, most of which were relatively ‘unwieldy’. There was a lot of reluctance amongst the USA to begin to place so much focus on a weapon like this, however in the beginning of 1950 President Truman ordered a so called ‘Crash’ program in order to develop the first Hydrogen bomb. These bombs were far more powerful compared to the first atomic bombs. By 1954 both superpowers had successful tested ‘H-bombs”. Now both countries were well and truly into an arms race in which both strived for bigger and better bombs. A belief was beginning to be sowed that the more/bigger the nuclear bombs you had, the more powerful you were and this created the realisation of the potential for human destruction being created. Thus although no real steps were taken to limit them, the realisation had been put in the back of everyones mind.
The introduction of MAD, (Mutually Assured Destruction) had a huge effect of the development and proliferation of the nuclear bombs, introducing the idea that bombs were as much a deterrent as they were a weapon. In the pre soviet nuclear cold war, Americans had experienced a superiority that branched out throughout most aspects and its pinnacle was nuclear superiority. Thus when the soviets achieved nuclear parity, America now had its own security to think about/consider. It had created a weapon that now had the potential to harm itself. As a result both sides focused on building up an arsenal to employ maximum retaliation force against a first-strike, rather than focusing on first strike capabilities. This new concept led to a huge increase in armaments, but the type of armaments/their potential use was severely different. They were seen as deterrents and not as attempts to attack the opposition. Thus controlling the development and spread of weapons to versions that were less likely to be deployed. None the less however, MAD result in a huge increase in number/quantity of nuclear weapons which brings up questions over whether it failed to acheived proliferation or not.
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was a treaty aimed and controlling and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear states. It instructed the five nuclear-equipped countries to never give nuclear weapons, or information that could help in their construction to countries outside of the ‘5’(the United States, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, France, and China). It also mentioned that, those states considered ‘nuclear weapon states’, should "pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete