To What Extent Was the Nuclear Arms Race Responsible for Stabilising the Cold War

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To what extent was the nuclear arms race a stabilising factor in the Cold War between 1949 and 1963? The nuclear arms race was undoubtedly a significant factor is stabilising the relations between the superpowers of the Soviet Union and USA in the period 1949 to 1963. Although the superpowers came close to war on four occasions during this period: the Berlin Crisis, the Korean War, the Taiwan Strait Crisis and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Whilst all these crises indicate major tensions and possibly instability, the fact that the superpowers did not engage in a direct war shows that nuclear weapons created a balance of terror and therefore could be considered a major stabilising factor in the Cold War. Stalin was determined to make the Soviet Union a nuclear power, after the USA created the first atomic bombs during the Second World War, which were tested in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. In August 1949 the Soviet Union successfully tested an atomic device, thus bringing an end to the US nuclear monopoly and this subsequently led to the beginning of nuclear arms race where the two superpowers aimed to match each other. Indeed with both superpowers having nuclear capabilities a balance of terror was once again established. The fact that each of the super powers now had nuclear capacity was clearly a stabilising factor, because nuclear weapons meant that the destructive power of each was greatly increased and subsequently so was their vulnerability should we not have the balance of terror in place. In this way the nuclear arms race brought some stability to relations between the superpowers in the period 1949 – 1953 because the threat of nuclear attacks forced both superpowers to limit conflict. Following the Soviet Union’s ability to have nuclear weapons both sides were now equally matched in terms of nuclear arms, so began the race to
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