The Arms Race was a central theme throughout the Cold War. The tensions between the USSR and USA Post-WWII gave rise to the possibility of an outbreak of a hot war between these two superpowers. With the intention to assert supremacy in terms of greater armaments, the USA and the Soviets busily went to work increasing the production of their respective armament inventories to the extent.
The world changed in 1952 when the US detonated their first H-Bomb, this nuclear weapon was smaller in size then the one unleashed on Hiroshima, however was 2500 times more powerful. By 1953 Russia also had the means to create their very own H-Bomb. With both powers having these weapons of mass destruction at hand, the world was in a state of hysteria and fear of being wiped out. After Hiroshima, people all around the world were well aware of how destructive a nuclear weapon could be on a country and its neighbours, and also the long term side affects that they caused.
The US also created the B52, a weapon that was capable of flying over 6,000 miles and causing nuclear destruction. The B52 required significant financial backing, and was something that the USSR could not afford at the time. In response to this they focused their attention on having a large quantity of weapons, rather then a handful of quality ones.
In October of 1957, Sputnik was launched and this created even more tension throughout the world. One of Sputnik’s main intentions was to lead ICBM’s (Inter-continental ballistic missiles), allowing targets to be hit with precision, launched from thousands of miles away.
American Intelligence estimated that by the end of the 1950’s, Russian had enough missiles to kill 20 million Americans, and injure another 22 million.
By 1986, it is estimated that throughout the world there were 40,000 nuclear warheads - the equivalent of one million Hiroshima bombs.
These statistics were confronting to leaders, and their nations. It was necessary for the opposing sides to trust each other more and more. A summit was held in Reykjavik in 1986 between presidents Reagan and Gorbachev, which initiated the idea of dismantling in nuclear weaponry. However it took many future meetings before significant cuts had been made, as shown by the following graph.
It is apparent that this arms race has endured over half a century, and the tensions are only just beginning to dissapate.