The Arms Race 1949-63


Developing of weapons technology

USA - Hydrogen Bomb 
 1950, Truman announced the USA would build a hydrogen bomb. Successfully tested in November 1952. 
- This was prompted by the Berlin Blockade of 1948-9, the establishment of the People's Republic of China in October 1949, and the discovery of a Soviet nuclear spy ring. 

Delivering the bomb by plane 
From 1953, 40% of the US defence funds were allocated to the air forces. By 1955, the USA owned the B52 Stratofortress, the first bomber with intercontinental range. 
- Strategic Air Command (SAC) became the USA's main nuclear strike force. 
- The Soviets could not compete with SAC but responded in 1956 with the TU20 Bear.

Development of rocket technology 
May 1957, Soviet Union successfully tested the world's first incontinental ballistic missle (ICBM). 
- 1957 USSR launced Sputnik into satellite, and later in the year Sputnik II with dog Laika. 
- By 1959: Soviet Strategic Rocket Force was a new section of the Soviet military. 
- 1961 - Yuri Gagarin became first man in space. 

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Developing of weapons technology continued...

The 'missile gap' 1957-61
The USSR's success led to US fears that the Soviets had more advanced military technology.
- USA was not far behind: possessed more nuclear weapons and launched own satellite in 1958. The USA also developed its own ICBMs. 
- Government intelligence gathered by U2 spy planes revealed that USSR had few bombers and operational missilles. 
- The USA deployed intermediate range ballistic missiles in Britain, Italy and Turkey. 
- In 1960, USA deployed Polaris, the world's first submarine-launched ballistic missile. 
- By 1965, the USA had 630 strategic bombers whilst the USSR had 200

By the early 1960s the arms race had reached the point of mutually assured destruction (MAD). 

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Balance of terror

Massive retaliation 
- US confidence about its nuclear superiority in the 1950s led the Eisenhower administration to introduce the doctrine of massive retaliation (1954). 
- Involved the use of brinkmanship. 

Flexible response 
- Kennedy rejected massive retaliation. 
- Favoured a flexible response strategy - not just an all out nuclear attack.

Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD)
-By the mid-late 1960s, the USA and Soviet Union had reached the position of mutual assured destruction.  

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The Impact of the Arms Race on the Cold War

Stablising effects + 
Prevented direct US-Soviet confrontation 
- Presence of nuclear weapons caused superpowers to respect other's areas e.g. Hungary. 
- Cooperation: Removal of nuclear missiles from Cuba and Turkey (1962-63), Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (1963), and the Washington-Moscow 'hot line'. (1963). 

Destablising effects - 
- Soviet acquisition of the atomic bomb led to a spiralling arms race. 
- The culture of secrecy surrounding it led to superpowers fears that the other side had military superiority. 
- Encouraged brinkmanship which could have resulted in total devastation. 
- The cost of nuclear weapons imposed huge financial strains on both sides. 
- Nuclear weapons did not stop other forms of superpower competition e.g. US support for anti-communist regimes in South Vietnam, South Korea and Taiwan. 

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The Causes of the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962

The Cuban Revolution, 1959
- By the mid-20th century, the USA owned much of the Cuban economy. January 1959, Batista, a ruthless military dictator, was overthrown by the revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro. 

Growing US-Cuban Tension, 1959-61
- Castro's meeting with Nixon in April 1959 did not go well. 
- Castro wanted to make Cuba independent of US influence. 
- February 1960: Castro signed a trade deal with the Soviet Union to nationalise US interests in Cuba that were worth over $1 billion. 
- July 1960: USA imposed economic blockade on Cuba, thereby refusing to buy its sugar. 
- Early 1961: Castro formally embraced communism. 

The Bay of Pigs Invasion, April 1961
- 1961, Kennedy authorised a CIA-backed invasion of Cuba. Aim was to spark a popular revolt. THe Anti-Castro Cuban exiles were overwhelmed by the Cuban army and air force. A humiliation for Kennedy. 

Operation Mongoose, Operation 1961
- Secret programme - destablise Cuban regime - Jan-July 1962 - 60,000 acts of sabotage. 

Soviet nuclear weapons on Cuba, 1962 
- Installed 24 55-4 medium range ballistic missiles and 16 longer-range 55-5 missile launchers. 

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The Cuban Missile Crisis, October 1962

What influenced USA's actions? 
- Soviet missiles based in Cuba could hit most of USA's large cities. 
- Attack from Cuba would reduce USA's warning time from 30 minutes to 3 minutes. 
- Kennedy needed a foreign policy success after the Vienna Summit, Berlin Wall + Bay of Pigs. 

- Kenendy established a naval blockade. 
- 24th October: American forces go to DEFCON2 (one short of war). 
- 26th October: Khrushchev sends letter to Kennedy to promising to remove Soviet missiles if US lifts the blockade and publically pledges to never invade Cuba. 
- 27th October: Kennedy states he will make a statement saying that the US will not invade CUba if USSR removes missiles from Cuba. Also, secret assurance that US would remove missiles from Turkey.
- 28th October, Khrushchev accepts Kennedy's terms. 

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The Results of the Cuban Missile Crisis - Leaders

- Much needed foreign policy success, but did not boast. 
- 10 days after crisis, Democrats won Senate. 
- Accepted that Cuba would remain under communist control. 
- Kennedy agreed to remove US missiles from Turkey.

Although the Soviet action had removed US missiles from Turkey, the Soviet military never forgave Khrushchev. They regarded the Cuban venture as ending in humiliating faliure and this was a factor in Khrushchev's removal from office in 1964. 

Castro had been furious with Khrushchev - he had not been consulted about the removal of the missiles. 
- Reinforced Cuba's dependence on the USSR, which continued to provide economic aid to Cuba. 

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The Results of the Cuban Missile Crisis - Policies

The 'hot-line' agreement, June 1963
- Between Washington and the Kremlin, so that the US and the Soviet leaders could contact eachother immediately and hold discussions. 
- The aim was to ensure any misjudgements could be resolved. Nixon and Brezhnev used the 'hot-line' during the India-Pakistan war in 1971. 

The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, August 1963 
- The two superpowers and Britain signed the treaty, which banned them from conducting nuclear tests in the atmoshphere, underwater, or in space. 
- However, underground testing was still permitted. 
- There was no reduction in armaments. 

The beginnings of Detente 
- Both sides were keen to establish better relations, leading to a period of detente in the 1970s. 

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