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Question

The Cold War produced an arms race as well as arms control. What were the reasons for both these developments?

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Solution

The Cold War refers to a period of acute hostilities and differences that arose between the US and the USSR blocs. In order to expand their area of influence and to counter each other’s moves, both the blocs not only formed military alliances, but also indulged in an arms race to enhance both their defensive and offensive capabilities.
a. Both the US and the USSR developed nuclear arsenals and triggered off a massive race for armaments, which created suspicion and mistrust between the two blocs.
b. The Cuban missile crisis, Korean crisis, wars in Congo and Vietnam and Soviet intervention in Afghanistan are examples where both the blocs had engaged in a series of confrontations and bloodsheds, with both the sides unwilling to retreat, thereby resulting in loss of lives.
c. However, with the increased pressure from international bodies like the UN and non-aligned groups, there was a growing realisation among the blocs to act responsibly.
d. They also feared an outbreak of war despite practising restraint.
e. Further, a miscalculation of each other’s weapons would give rise to a belligerent situation.
f. Moreover, should a nuclear accident take place or a weapon be accidently shot off, this would cause massive destruction.
g. It was this fear of the outbreak of nuclear war which compelled them to restrain their actions and engage in arms control.
It is this context that both the US and the USSR decided to co-operate and collaborate in a series of treaties to eliminate certain nuclear and non-nuclear weapons and to ensure that the balance of weapons is maintained. Thus, treaties like the Limited Test Ban Treaty, Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty and Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty were signed to limit the use of arms.

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