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Q15. Discuss the stages of defusing nuclear time-bomb.

Cuba woke many people to the dangers of thermonuclear war. The major obstacle to overcome was the deep distrust between the Soviets and Americans. Small measures were taken to gradually build mutual trust as a foundation.  The first such step was installing the Hot Line between Washington and Moscow to reduce miscommunications and technical errors. Both sides constantly upgraded their control systems followed by atmospheric test ban treaty to protect the atmosphere from fallout.

In 1968 the nuclear non-proliferation treaty committed a large number of nations to not developing nuclear weapons.

In the 1970s, the United States and Soviet Union took a giant step forward with the Strategic Arms Limitations Treaties, SALT I (1972) and SALT II (1979), which put caps on the number of new weapons being produced.

Computer technology was making possible a whole new generation of sophisticated weapons systems, including the guided missile defense system against an incoming nuclear attack.

Soviet Union’s economy was already sinking under the burden of trying to keep up with the United States’ buildup.  Mikhail Gorbachev, announced a unilateral withdrawal of some Soviet forces from Eastern Europe as a gesture to the West for more substantial talks.  These renewed disarmament negotiations produced a series of new treaties that significantly reduced nuclear stockpiles and ended the Cold War on a much happier note than it might have:

  • Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty eliminates many missiles, especially in Europe (1987)
  • Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) cut number of Nuclear warheads from 23,500 à 15,400 (1991)
  • START II Eliminated land based MIRV’s (Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicles) (1993)
  • Agreement to cut American & Russian nuclear forces below 2000 warheads each (2001)

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