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The Continuity and Change of Nuclear Policy

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The policies and treaties that spurred from the beginning of the world’s rude introduction to nuclear bombs have had many drastic ratifications and improvements as governments and people alike have become increasingly aware of their capabilities to end the world, even though these extremely dangerous weapons have a place in a world of instability and through years of the global political crisis that the U.S. has only aggravated with their vast nuclear arsenal of over “6,000 warheads.” Which has only slightly shrunk through the adoption of treaties and deals brokered between the United States and Russia as shown by the changes and similarities of events, from the 1963 Cuban Missile Crisis and the Bay of Pigs to the Star Wars defense initiative of the Raegan era to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the fall of the Soviet Union to the current state of weapons of mass destruction as more rogue states continue to independently develop their own arsenals as the world and the United States relationships continue to fray, along with the framework of Nuclear Policy, as deals are broken and changed over time.

Prior to the end of World War II, the world had seen much change in the way war was fought. From the battles in fields to the economic boost of World War I by the creation of bombs and conventional weapons, this changed the way war was fought, which in turn caused political and security uncertainty among world powers. This leads back to World War II, It seemed as though the Soviets were increasing in strength, causing concern among Western leaders. This was especially true of the U.S. who developed the first atomic bomb with the Manhattan project, costing them upwards of 3 billion in tax dollars, which gave the United States a reasonable claim in order to drop the bombs in Japan and garner the support of the American people.

The end of the Second World War was a turning point in the military and their technological development which forever changed the way the world treated a weapon of mass destruction. After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the only time the atomic bomb has been used in a way to end a part of the war, but later it was used as a means of deterrence, in which the U.S. and the Soviets continue to test their hydrogen and atomic bombs

Prior to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the War had cost about 36 million lives in the Pacific and this also includes the people who were directly and indirectly affected by the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

After Hiroshima and the ending of World War II, there was something of a new world order where there were two major powers looking for world dominance. This lead to the increased use of nuclear arsenals as a showing of power leading to the beginning of the Cold War and the vast increase in defense spending and nuclear technologies. Which in turn lead the United States and others, and with that came some skepticism from many as the first nuclear safety policies were drafted in order to lessen the threat of nuclear destruction, and a repeat of the devastation caused by ‘Little Boy’ and ‘Fat Man’ in Japan, and with that, “The ICRC took a clear stance in favor of the abolition of nuclear weapons soon after such weapons were used for the first time, and this position remains consistent across the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (the Movement) today: in President Peter Maurer’s words, ‘the ICRC and the Movement emphasizes the rationale for action on nuclear weapons and lend force to the efforts to achieve a ban on their use and their total elimination.’”

Although nothing had changed in regards to the development of nuclear treaties or policy, as there was no consideration of the danger of the weapons in government but, as shown by the action of Human Rights groups and the United Nations to create policy there was a slow but sure change in the narrative as John F Kennedy once said prior to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

“Every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable. Every man, woman, and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation, or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us”.

The Cuban Missile Crisis and the Bay of Pigs invasion brought new changes to the place of the united states, with their response to the rise of Fidel Castro’s Regime and the attempts to overthrow by the United States was seen as aggression and a threat by the White House to world peace.

“Kennedy’s handling of Cuba has also attracted criticism. His disastrous attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro during the Bay of Pigs invasion embarrassed the White House and alienated Cuba. Some historians have blamed Kennedy for the missile crisis developing in the first place, claiming that the president made an enemy of Cuba and presented a weak, inexperienced image that encouraged the Soviet Union to take advantage.”

With this new development, there were now Medium Range Ballistic Missiles within striking distance of the United States which instilled fear among many civilians, and ultimately our president. The embargo which placed the world on Armageddon’s doorstep put a new perspective on the importance of nuclear policy from especially John F Kennedy whose hardline policies and negotiations lead to and away from ‘mutually assured destruction as the U.S. had a staggering 25,000 warheads in the 1960s.

The actions of the Raegan era developed new technologies to counter the Soviets, specifically the new laser “Star Wars” protection which many hailed as an achievement in the technologies to defend American soil. But also many pushed back as the technologies were deemed by the civilian population and the Soviets as too dangerous to sustain world peace as the Soviets felt a clear disadvantage. As a result of this, there was a policy created to prevent the development of the tech any further, and for the U.S. to possibly share the tech with the Soviets, which would cause a balance in power. As one wouldn’t be ahead or behind.

“Although SDI was a frequent topic in negotiations with Gorbachev, Reagan was reluctant to surrender his project. At Geneva, for example, Reagan proposed that the two sides reduce their respective nuclear arsenals by 50% but was unwilling to surrender SDI. Once again, however, Reagan offered to share SDI technology with the Soviet Union, although not all of his advisors shared his enthusiasm for the proposal”.

The Fall of the Berlin Wall and shortly thereafter the fall of the Soviet Union brought drastic change to the safety of the world, along with massive ratifications of many existing nuclear deals as well as the creation of new ones, like Start I, NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) which both the United States and Russia agreed upon.

“Bilateral ratified treaty between the U.S. and U.S.S.R., which required the elimination of all missiles with ranges between 625 and 3,500 miles by June 1, 1991, and all missiles with ranges between 300 and 625 miles within 18 months. In all, 2,692 missiles were to be eliminated. In addition, all associated equipment and operating bases were closed out from any further INF missile system activity. Altogether it resulted in the elimination of 846 U.S. INF missile systems and 1,846 Soviet INF missile systems. Compliance is monitored using national technical means, five types of on-site inspection, and cooperative measures. The INF Treaty is the first nuclear arms control agreement to actually reduce nuclear arms, rather than establish ceilings.”

With the new caps on the development of Nuclear technology between foreign states who signed the deal turned the United States away from a collision path with the Soviet Union and continued the peace, many international peacekeeping organizations had been seeking through the years.

The new rhetoric of the United States and its foreign policies under the Obama administration has created a dynamic of supporting international states in order to have a natural reduction in the number of weapons of mass destruction, as the country under an alliance can be under the arsenal of the United States. The narrative of the common civilians has become more against the development of nuclear weapons, as there is evidence of the devastation of nuclear tests as well as their uses in conventional warfare.

The Future of Nuclear policy lays in the perils of new and unconcerned leadership for the effects as well as the elusive development by rogue nations and terrorist groups. Throughout the period of time weapons of mass destruction have been used as a means of defense and in one case offense, but as shown with the example of different time periods and events nuclear policy has changed enough to limit nuclear weapons production, but not completely abolish the existence and the possibilities of their use.

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The Continuity And Change Of Nuclear Policy. (2022, April 29). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 18, 2022, from
“The Continuity And Change Of Nuclear Policy.” GradesFixer, 29 Apr. 2022,
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