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nuclear weapons

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University of Toronto St. George
Political Science
John Haines

POL208- Lecture #10 Nuclear Weapons The images we all have of nuclear weapons are all from Nagasaki and Hiroshima, as they are the only ones. It was used as a war tactic to end the war and it was successful. Over the years the power of nuclear weapons has increased exponentially. A nuclear bomb can work in two ways: fusion (the H bomb) & fission. Highly enraged uranium is required and since this does not exist naturally, an industrial process is created. The key discovery of nuclear weapons was made at the end of the 1930s. With technology the power and size of these weapons has changed. Bombs have gotten smaller but power has gotten bigger. People can carry bombs undetected in just suitcases; it has evolved from being carried by an airplane. Nuclear weapons are deterrent weapons. To work, there is a capacity and a psychological factor. The psychological factor is that a decision maker must be convinced that his actions will be responded and that response ill lead to the total destruction of his country. Rationalists will always consider that no decision maker of a country will be suicidal enough o launch a nuclear attack IF the retaliation will be the complete destruction of his nation. BUT the capacity factor is about the capacity to launch a second strike. If your enemy adversary think that by attacking you, he will deprive you of any capacity to respond then deterrence does not work. You need to be able to strike a second time if youve been attacked first. This helps understand the conflict between the U.S & the Soviet Union. It is key for deterrence to have both factors. With the event of a nuclear submarine that can launch nuclear weapons a country is ensured to strike back. At the start of the Cold War the U.S relied on a simple model massive retaliation. Whatever Moscow did, theyd respond back massively. Massive retaliation was a doctrine that was in fact reflecting nuclear superiority from the U.S. The other effect of massive retaliation was that it transformed every dispute between the two powers into a potential WW3 conflict. If there is no flexibility in the massive retaliation doctrine, the rare scenario of a platoon of Soviet soldiers getting lost in the bo
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