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The Nuclear Arms Race
In order to maintain peace and stability in the world, there must be a balance of power between countries. The Nuclear Arms Race was started because there wasnít a balance of power after World War II. The U.S. was the only country at that time which possessed nuclear weapons. Russia, fearing a United States domination of world power, developed a nuclear bomb of its own. Thus started the Arms Race, in which both countries attempted to gain the upper hand in terms of the number of nuclear warheads each possessed. However, the Arms Race ended when several treaties in arms reduction were passed. I believe that in the end, the United States and the Soviet Union realized that one country would eventually win, and the balance of power would again be shifted. Fearing a nuclear war, arms negotiations began in an attempt to lessen the tension. This is evident in the fact that treaties between the two countries were signed, agreeing on the limitation and testing of nuclear arms. It is also illustrated in the Cuban Missile Crisis, where Russia agreed to withdraw the missiles placed in Cuba, fearing U.S. retaliation.
In order to better understand the Arms Race, a brief history must be given. The Arms Race probably began in August of 1949, when Russia detonated its own nuclear weapon, thus ending the U.S. monopoly. In response, president Truman ordered the development of the hydrogen bomb in January of 1950. However, the Soviet Union made the first H-bomb in August of 1953. Then, the race escalated when the Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile was developed in the summer of 1957, again by the Soviets. A serious crisis arose in 1962, when the Soviets placed ballistic missiles in Cuba, their new ally. The missiles were withdrawn when the U.S. threatened nuclear retaliation. In return, President Kennedyís promised not to invade Cuba. The world had never come closer to a nuclear war.
Negotiations, beginning with the establishment of the International Atomic Energy Agency in 1957, began between the two countries. As the possibility of war rose, the United States and the Soviet Union saw the necessity of treaties to prevent disaster. A series of talks called SALT, or the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, began in November 1969 and ended in January 1972. Two treaties, limiting the number of allowed weapons, radars, and launchers each country could possess, were signed on May 26, 1972. Then the SALT II talks began in September 1972 and ended in January 1979. A new treaty, called the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, began in May of 1982. In July of 1991, George Bush and Soviet President Gorbachev signed the START I Treaty, which reduced the number of nuclear warheads by about 25 percent. A START II Treaty, signed by Bush and Yeltsin in January 1993, eliminated almost three-quarters of the nuclear warheads still held by the U.S., Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. And thus ended the arms race.
Several questions are raised from these arguments. Although relations between the United States and Russia are now stable, does that mean that the threat of a nuclear war is gone? And who has won the arms race, anyway? I donít think that anybody won the arms race, and I believe that thatís a good thing. It is better to divide power in to several hands than to keep it in one. As for the threat of a nuclear war, I think that it is still present. Eventually, other countries will develop nuclear technology, and somebody might decide that they want to rule the world. But these are only my opinions, and only time will tell us the answer.
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Foreign relations, International relations, Law, Soviet UnionUnited States relations, Presidency of George H. W. Bush, RussiaUnited States relations, Nuclear weapons, Nuclear arms race, START I, Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, Nuclear warfare, Arms control
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