history unit two: detente

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1      Détente

1.1    Causes

-        For part of the 1960s and 70s there was an improvement in East West relations. This improvement became known as détente and resulted in the signing of a number of treaties and agreements.

-        Part of the US reasoning behind détente was its desire to take advantage of the strained relations between the USSR and China. The USA believed that if it could create better relations with China this would put significant pressure on the USSR.

-        The USSR was concerned about the improvement in US China relations. Its desire to keep China isolated was one of its main reasons for wanting to improve relations with the US.

-        The arms race was expensive, both countries, especially the USSR, were keen to reduce spending.

-        The missile crisis had scared both superpowers, they realised how close the world had come to nuclear war. Improved relations would reduce the chance of nuclear conflict.

-        The superpowers were worried about nuclear proliferation – weapons and technologies spreading to other countries. This would increase the chance of nuclear conflict.

-        Public opposition grew against nuclear weapons- détente could lead to a commitment to reduce weapons.

-        Washington needed new export markets and Moscow badly needed foreign supplies of grain as its grain harvest had failed in 1972.

1.2    USSR + China

-        Initially China and the USSR had got on well but relations deteriorated.

-        Both countries differed over the best methods of agricultural development.

-        China believed the USSR wanted to dominate it.

-        The USSR refused to share nuclear technology. China developed its own nuclear capability by 1964.

-        China opposed the criticism of Stalin in Khrushchev’s Secret Speech of…


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