Soviet/Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces, 1945–2000
From the beginning of the nineteenth century to the end of World War II, the power of weapons went from the muzzle-loaded cannon, capable of firing a small high-explosive charge a few hundred yards, to the strategic bomber, capable of delivering a 30-kiloton atomic bomb several thousand miles. This revolution would continue in the Cold War years, as new technologies further extended the range and power of modern weapons. By the end of the 1960s, the range and lethality of these weapons peaked with the advent of intercontinental ballistic missiles and thermonuclear warheads. The strategic arms race of the 1960s led to the construction of enormous arsenals of Soviet and American nuclear weapons capable of genocidal levels of destruction. The superpowers were forced to confront the political and military utility of these weapons in the face of their disturbing destructive power. Both sides continued to develop and deploy new generations of weapons in the hopes of maintaining technologically plausible deterrence while at the same time engaging in arms control treaties in the hopes of limiting future arms races and decreasing the probability of nuclear war. The contradictory impulses of arms control and weapons modernization lay at the heart of many Cold War controversies.
KeywordsNuclear Weapon Ballistic Missile General Staff Strategic Mission Cruise Missile
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