BW – The Arms Race


USA created nuclear weaponry through the Manhattan project and used them on Japan in August 1945.

They were used as a tool of intimidation at Potsdam at subsequently.

Through espionage on the Manhattan  Project and their own research the USSR developed nuclear weapons, detonating their first bomb in Aug 1949 – codenamed First Lightning. This led to mass increase in arms spending and the development of the Hydrogen bomb by both sides by 1955.


External Factors

  • Increased feelings of vulnerability caused by nuclear weaponry.
  • Soviet boasting of the capabilities caused the USA to increase arms spending caused fears the USA needed to stay ahead.
  • Sides convinced nukes were teh only way to guarantee their defence.
  • Increased defence systems e.g Star Wars in 1980s.

Internal Factors 

  • USSR military exerted heavy influence on politics – resisting attempts to lessen spending.
  • USA – military-industrial complex 30 million jobs and large sums of money created for manufacturers by the increasing arms race.


By the end of 1960 the USAF predicted the USSR would have 100 missiles in place compared to the USA’s 30. In response the USA built-up over 1000 land based missiles and over 600 submarine missiles.  The Soviets developed Anti-Ballistic-Missile systems to shoot down nuclear weapons.

In response the USA introduced MIRV (Multiple-Independently-Target-able-Re-entry Vehicle) a device that lessened the effectiveness of ABMs as they made warheads spilt into many.

The main danger of the arms race was that it brought the possibilty of nuclear war closer.

The nuclear arms race meant both sides wanted to lesson the conventional arms they had as they saw nukes as cheaper. However the Vietnam and Korean wars showed that conventional arms were still needed so they were maintained and increased- allowing an alternative to nuclear weaponry.


Space Race

In 1957 the USSR launched the first satellite Sputnik. USA believed space the next logical frontier, worried Sputnik demonstrated Soviet missile superiority -allowing them to launch missiles from USSR into space then USA.


in 1958 USA launched Explorer I and founded NASA, alongside which CORONA was created to investigate the military potential of space.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s