The Cold War — and After?
When atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki the map of strategic choices was changed for all time. The knock-out blow from the air that Britain and other countries had feared in the 1930s and which Britain above all others had tried to deliver during the war that followed was now undoubtedly possible. The third strategic choice, ‘air’ was clearly now an option in its own right as an offensive weapon for some nations while many others would have to consider whether potential enemies possessed a nuclear capability and if so how they could be deterred from using it. The two strongest powers to emerge from the Second World War, the US and the USSR, could not realistically reject the nuclear option. Each felt that it had to have nuclear weapons to be secure from the other. Another group of powers, which could call on the necessary knowledge and skills, acquired these weapons because of their distrust of one or other of the Superpowers, as the US and the USSR came to be called. This group included Britain, France and China. As time went on a further, less definable group of powers, involved in various regional conflicts, have considered the nuclear option as a final weapon to avoid defeat at the hands of their opponents. Israel, India, Pakistan, Iraq and South Africa come into this category, but the extent to which any of them have produced nuclear weapons has been kept secret by the nations concerned.
KeywordsForeign Policy Nuclear Weapon Weapon System Flexible Response Defence Budget
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