US Nuclear Policy, 1945-68: Lessons from the Past for Dealing with the Emerging Threat from Iran
AIR AND SPACE POWER JOURNAL MAXWELL AFB AL
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The United States faces a potential transition in the balance of power and a growing concern over the threat of nuclear proliferation. The bipolar balance of power during the Cold War, though often tense and dangerous, kept states in check, thus maintaining a relatively stable international security environment with limited, or at least controlled, proliferation of nuclear technology. The current focus on the dynamics of international power, the threat of terrorism, and worries about nuclear proliferation calls for an examination of aspects of the post-World War II world and the early history of nuclear weapons. Such a review may provide insight into US policy options for addressing Irans pursuit of nuclear technology. The United States established the strategic nuclear policies in effect from 1945 to 1968 primarily to counter what the West perceived as a growing communist threat led by the Soviet Union. US policy makers of the time based this course of action on the technical developments, national interests, and dynamics of the international situation present in the security environment. This article describes and analyzes US nuclear policy from 1945 to 1968, uses the rational actor model to assess US actions during that period, and recommends a future nuclear policy that draws on our Cold War experience to deal with an emerging threat from Iran. By addressing lessons from the past, the article seeks to present a logical, yet likely controversial, course of action for the future.
- Administration and Management
- Government and Political Science
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
- Nuclear Weapons