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Better Safe Than SorryThe Ironies of Living with the Bomb$
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Michael Krepon

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780804760638

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804760638.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM STANFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.stanford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Stanford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in SSO for personal use.date: 22 October 2019

The First Nuclear Age

The First Nuclear Age

Chapter:
(p.33) 3 The First Nuclear Age
Source:
Better Safe Than Sorry
Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804760638.003.0003

The Cold War, nuclear overkill, and mutual assured destruction defined the first nuclear age. Nuclear negotiations naturally became a field of superpower rivalry. The existential facts of nuclear overkill and national vulnerability did not preclude offending risk taking during the Cold War. Nuclear deterrence during the first nuclear age became established on annihilation threats. An essential precaution against a well-armed adversary became the limited nuclear options, but they were hardly reassuring. During the first nuclear age, the leisurely pace of proliferation was essential due to the major powers, neighbors, and international institutions it allowed to adapt to unwelcome change. The nuclear arms race attained unanticipated heights during this age. Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev won the battle of exposing the back of the nuclear arms race. Until the end of the first nuclear age, technological developments in support of deterrence surpassed arms control when Reagan and Gorbachev reversed the nuclear arms race.

Keywords:   first nuclear age, nuclear overkill, Cold War, nuclear arms race, Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev

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