The Arms Race 1945-62


Causes of the Arms Race

The Growth of International Tension:

  • Growing hostility between both superpowers saw arms as necessary to safeguard the interests of the East and West.
  • Development of the nuclear bomb- USA had theirs in 1945 but USSR developed it's own in 1949.
  • Each power saw the nuclear capacity of the other with anxiety- convinced that nuclear superiority was the only way to guarentee their defensive needs.
  • Was a substitute for war.
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Causes of the Arms Race

National and Personal Considerations:

  • Both sides saw the competition as a chance to raise national prestige and secure reputation in world affairs.
  • Pressure on US and Soviet leaders to fight the other power.
  • Public fears- USA spent lots on defence.
  • 1961- Kennedy felt vunerable to Soviet manipulation so increased defense spending once again.
  • Khrushchev boasted about his nuclear weapons, though most of his claims were untrue.
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Causes of the Arms Race

Domestic Factors:

  • Military-industrial complex in USA.
  • Military areas in the economy gained great power and influence in both USA and USSR.
  • Cutting military spending meant threatning military power which was strongly resisted as found by Khrushchev in 1964.
  • Influence of army maintained as both sides emphasised each others threats to secure resources and power.
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Development- Bombs

1945- USA atomic bombs (Hiroshima and Nagasaki)

1946- Baruch Plan failes to limit nuclear weapons

1949- USSR get their first atomic bomb

1952- USA get hydrogen bomb

1953- USSR get lithium bomb

1954- USA get lithium bomb

1957- USSR develops first ICBM

1957- Eisenhower warned of 'Missile Gap'

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Development- Delivery systems

1955- USA develop first intercontinental bombers

1956- USSR develops TU20 Bear

1957- USSR launch Sputnik

1960- USA launch first SLBM

1961- USSR put first man in space (Yuri Gagarin)

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