What was détente? Détente means a ‘lessening of tensions’. By the 1960s, mainly due to the Cuban Missile Crisis, both sides in the Cold War realised that there was a need to reduce tensions and slow down the build up of arms. In 1963 the USA, USSR and Britain signed the Partial Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. This banned nuclear weapon testing in the air, but not underground. France and China would not sign, and in 1964 China tested its first nuclear bomb in the air. How effective would you say this treaty was? Explain your answer. Do you think it curbed Soviet or US testing? In Kazakhstan testing now moved underground, only 20 km from the village of Sarzhal. The shocks cracked and demolished houses. What does this suggest about Soviet-US relations?
The missile race Number of Missiles After Cuba, arms limitation talks were occurring. What does this graph tell you about their effectiveness?
Proliferation and deterrence In the 1960s there were two major worries. The first was that nuclear weapons would proliferate – more countries would acquire nuclear capability. The second was maintaining the deterrent balance between the two superpowers. On the proliferation front, the Chinese and French were a source of anxiety due to their nuclear testing. The USSR reinforced its armies along the Sino – Soviet (Chinese – Russian) frontier, and in the Pacific, a New Zealand warship patrolled in an effort to deter the French from exploding nuclear weapons. In 1964, the Soviets announced the development of an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) which they claimed would destroy US missiles in mid-air. In response, Poseidon MIRV missiles were installed in US nuclear submarines. By the end of the 1960s it became clear that serious limitation was needed.
SALT I SALT = Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, signed in 1972. Why was reduction of arms sought? Nixon had promised to get the USA out of Vietnam. He thought that by agreeing to arms control, he could persuade the Soviets to stop supporting North Vietnam. In 1971 Brezhnev announced a ‘Programme for Peace’ to improve relations between the superpowers. Nixon tried to improve US – Chinese relations. In 1972, the US government finally agreed to let China join the UN. This worried the Soviets, who thought the two countries might gang up on the USSR, so Brezhnev invited Nixon to Moscow to sign SALT I.
SALT I was the first real step to restricting weapons. It ‘froze’ the numbers of large rockets (ICBMs), both on land and in submarines, for five years. Bombers were not covered. However, throughout the talks Nixon would not discuss MIRV as he was determined to stay ahead in the Arms Race. “ The SALT I agreement froze ICBM deployment but not MIRV, which was about as meaningful as freezing the [European] cavalry … in 1938 but not the tanks. “ Throughout the Nixon administration the Pentagon added three new warheads a day … a strange way to control the arms race.” Stephen Ambrose, 1985. How effective would you say SALT was and why? What was SALT I?
Additional benefits of this period of détente The USSR and USA also signed the ABM Treaty. In this they promised not to set up more than one site each for anti-ballistic missile defence. The two sides also signed a trade agreement allowing the USA to export grain to the USSR. Space cooperation was agreed upon, as well as an encouragement of artistic and sporting links. The Soviets finally recognised West Germany as a country and allowed West Berliners to visit relatives in East Berlin. In 1975, 35 countries signed the Helsinki Agreement. It recognised Soviet dominance in Eastern Europe. All countries agreed to notify the others of military exercises and allow them to send observers. They also agreed to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Weapons increases after SALT I Number of Missiles What does this graph tell you about the success of SALT I? Explain your answer.
SALT II Talks were held from 1977 onwards for a new SALT agreement to limit every type of rocket and the numbers of warheads. This meant that each side would have to dismantle some large rockets to keep within the limits. It was meant to stay in force until 1985, and limited each superpower to 2,400 strategic nuclear weapon systems. The treaty was drawn up in 1979, but the USSR then invaded Afghanistan, so the USA refused to ratify the treaty. Although it was never ratified, both sides pledged to follow its guidelines. However, it did not mention tactical (short-range) weapons or designate how many strategic warheads each side could deploy.
Détente was not simply a period of arms talks. It was a time when the world began to share ideas and discoveries, and cooperate in exploration.
This ruled that the Moon and all the planets could only be used for peaceful purposes, and that no country could lay claim to the Moon or any other celestial body. It also ruled that any objects carrying nuclear weapons, or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction, are not to be placed in orbit around the Earth. Scientists from 67 nations cooperated on projects to discover more about the world. This included bases set up in Antarctica to make records of the ice, exploring the seabed and examining volcanic formations. Nations across the world signed this treaty which ruled that Antarctica could only be used for peaceful purposes, and that national claims to this region should not interfere with scientific research. International cooperation International Geophysical Year, 1957 –5 8 The Antarctic Treaty, 1959 The Outer Space Treaty, December 1966
Space cooperation It was not simply over weapons that the superpowers were cooperating. Space exploration and developments began to be shared. In 1975, a Soviet Soyuz craft linked with an Apollo Command Service Module in space. NASA developed the first reusable space shuttle. The first was launched April 1981. The Soviets concentrated on building space stations, the first being Salyut 1. They continued to develop and refine these until they finally built the longest-lasting space station, Mir (meaning peace), which contained several US modules, and was launched in February 1986.
Successes and failures “ Détente was more about improving relations than about Arms Control”. Discuss