In the 1980s Britain was actually preparing for a potential war. ‘Protect and survive’ was a naïve campaign set up to help people deal with a nuclear attack.
Tbf as both countries knew the consequences of a nuclear war, both were incredibly reluctant to use any nuclear weapons. So in actual fact that situation was safer.
WHY WAS THERE AN ARMS-RACE EH?
International tension, that’s why. The world events post-WW2 (Berlin Blockade 49, Korean War 50, China’s civil war 49) enhanced the huge tensions between the USSR and USA. When the USA developed the first atomic bomb in 1945, and Russia theirs in 49, the arms-race arguably became a nice safe substitute for War. It didn’t help that Khrushchev liked to brag about his weapons – thus making the USA concerned about their strength.
National and personal issues: Technological achievement became a yard stick by which merits of capitalism and communism could be measured. Keeping ahead of the game became a matter of national pride.
Eisenhower (1953 – 1961) found it particularly hard not to spend on arms due to (his youth and inexperience) and public fears – despite the U2 planes showing Russia weren’t technologically advanced. By 1962 military expenditures hit 50$ billion for the first time since the Korean War.
Domestic Factors. Basically, there are groups in countries that benefit from armament orders i.e the army.
In the USSR the armed forces were able to exert influence on the soviet governemt
In the USA 30 million people were employed due to the funds given. To cut the costs of weapons would have big economic effects on the economy in the USA.
Key developments in the arms-race:
SUMMARY OF TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS
WHO HAD THE UPPER HAND?
The Manhattan Project: atomic bomb tested in New Mexico. Then used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Attempts to control nuclear weapon development: Baruch Plan (un) failed (told you!)
Russia explodes first atomic bomb at Semipalatinsk (Czechoslovakia). Helped by spies Hall and Fuchs.
Also in 1948
China turning communist AND Berlin Blockade --- America feeling vulnerable.
America test hydrogen bomb in Pacific
USSR test Lithium bomb – Lithium easier to transport (doesn’t need to be refrigerated like hydrogen bomb)
USA also test Lithium bomb: competition shifts to development of delivery systems
First bomber (B52) with intercontinental range
USSR make own version of the intercontinental bomber (TU20 Bear)
USSR made first rocket launched in Kazakhstan. It was a…