Nuclear Arms Race

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Nuclear Arms Race

President Reagan and His Influence on the Nuclear Arms Race
In large part, President Ronald Reagan had a great deal to do with the end of the Cold War and the end of the nuclear arms race. Reagan was a visionary who sought the end of the nuclear arms race with the Soviets. His Cold War policy was based on bringing an end to the development and accumulation of nuclear weapons both in the United States and the Soviet Union. Reagan believed that the Soviet economy and technological base presented weaknesses which would benefit the United States in the ongoing Cold War.

Reagan's anti-war and anti-nuclear bomb views goes back to World War II when the United States dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan, ending the war. It was at this time that he became involved in anti-nuclear politics. He was a strong supporter of the elimination of all nuclear weapons and the internationalization of atomic energy. His dream was that the world would be free of nuclear weapons and a nuclear arms race between countries.

SDI as a Component to Ending the Nuclear Arms Race
Reagan first learned about missile defense capabilities and possibilities in the late 1960's. With a strong missile defense, Reagan saw the potential to use technology to stop the use of atomic weapons for destructive purposes. He knew that humanity would certainly continue to find ways to use atomic energy in a negative way, and missile defense would help protect humanity against itself. This desire to utilize the missile defense technology to create missile shields around the U.S. and other countries was the basis for his announcement of the Strategic Defense Initiative in 1983. He felt it was in part his responsibility for working to create ways to end the nuclear arms race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Using missiles to destroy nuclear warheads in flight was one way of achieving his goals of the protection of humanity.

Reagan believed the battle of Armageddon as written about in the Biblical book of Revelation would be a nuclear war. This strong belief compelled him to seek the abolition of all nuclear weapons around the globe, and the use of missile defense could be a strategic and critical part of that plan.

Reagan's Plan to End the Nuclear Arms Race
Early on during the Reagan presidency, he set forth proposals for nuclear arms negotiations with the Soviets that called for major reductions of both side's nuclear weapons buildup and arsenals. On the subject of intermediate-range ballistic missiles, the U.S. proposed to the Soviets that if they would eliminate their intermediate-range missiles, then the U.S. would not follow through with plans to place intermediate-range missiles throughout Europe. His plans for nuclear arms reductions were very aggressive, for both the U.S. and especially the Soviets. Many members of his administration were not in favor of such drastic cuts in the U.S. supply of nuclear weapons. Reagan sincerely had the desire to rid the entire world of nuclear weapons and to end the nuclear arms race. He was not only interested in eliminating the Soviet Unions weapons alone, but the U.S. supply as well.

Reagan saw the implementation of SDI as a key to ending the nuclear arms race and creating a nuclear-free world. He believed an effective missile defense system could render nuclear weapons as well as all other types of ballistic missiles obsolete. He felt that by implementing this missile defense system, other nations with nuclear weapons would realize the futility of such weapons in light of a solid defense against them. As a result, all nations would choose to eliminate all nuclear weapons seeing as there would be no way to deliver them effectively.

For the entire article, see "President Reagan's Legacy and U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy"  HERE.