The Soviet Atomic Project
In 1961, The USSR detonated the Tsar Bomba, a nuclear weapon with power equal to 3,800 Hiroshimas. This event occurred because of the Soviet Atomic project, a program meant to provide Soviets with Atomic weapons. The program commenced in 1940 with the first Atomic test in 1943. The program gave rise to the second nuclear power country in the world and a massive stockpile of the deadliest weapons ever created. While the USSR may have needed atomic weapons to maintain a balance amongst the other world powers, their atomic program threatened world peace because it culminated in the most powerful bomb ever detonated and caused the cold war.
The Soviet atomic bomb project was the secret program authorized by Joseph Stalin to develop nuclear weapons in the Soviet Union during World War 2. The project began in 1940 and culminated in the development of several of the deadliest weapons ever. Beginning in 1939, the Soviet Union began suspecting that the allied powers had been building a super weapon and upon the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima by the United States, their suspicions were confirmed. Rapid development to build a super weapon began in the Soviet Union and Soviet spies such as Klaus Fuchs used espionage during the Manhattan project to gain information on nuclear development (“Spies Who Spilled Atomic Secrets”).
Because of the Soviet Atomic Project, Russia is one of the five nuclear weapon states worldwide. Several thousand nuclear weapons currently reside in the country’s stockpile which began after successfully simulating nuclear fission during the Soviet Atomic Project (Kristensen). Despite this seemingly large amount, it is a large decrease from its peak of 45,000 of these weapons during the Soviet era circa 1986 (“Nuclear”). Although the arsenal is no longer a threat as a result of several deals and treaties such as the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (“Nuclear”), Soviet missiles were once the largest threat to world peace. These missiles contributed to the Cold War because they were responsible for the prolonged competition between the United States and the Soviet Union. As the US quickly advanced their atomic weapons, the Soviet Union continued to advance as well, ultimately detonating their Tsar Bomba. “It is the largest nuclear device ever exploded. Having no strategic military value, Tsar is viewed as an act of intimidation by the Soviets” (“The Cold War”). As the United States increased their arsenal, so did the Soviets. This period is called the arms race. This period affected Americans amongst others negatively. Bomb shelters were being built, citizens were panicking and living in a constant fear of a nuclear war (Liou). The Cold War forced Nations to choose a side between communism and capitalism, and in Europe, the iron curtain was drawn (Reynolds). These were the immediate effects of a cold war brought about by Soviet development of atomic bombs but there were lasting impacts as well. The current moment started to be viewed from a global standpoint and “Normalised surveillance, generalised anxiety, an obsession with security, nationalised identities, pervasive suspicion and secrecy, spectacular military technology and proxy wars, spies, whistleblowers, and the enemy within” (Beck). Today, people have become more worried about privacy with more spies and obsession over security with passwords on items ranging from cellphones to garage doors. The events of the cold war were a direct result of the Soviet Atomic Project because, without Nuclear power, the Soviet Union would have been no match for the economically and militarily superior United States.
The question remains: Should nuclear weapons be abolished? According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, “Nuclear weapons are unique in their destructive power, in the unspeakable human suffering they cause, in the impossibility of controlling their effects in space and time, and in the threat they pose to the environment, to future generations, and indeed to the survival of humanity” (2010). To some, nuclear weapons are not necessary and have never been necessary. They claim that a nuclear war has the potential to end a world and mass destruction is not essential to maintain world peace (HoKiajunn). Also, killing innocent civilians and causing economic harm with nuclear weapons would violate international humanitarian law and could cause an international famine (“Arguments for a Nuclear Ban”).Yet, it can also be argued that there is a need for nuclear weapons in today's environment. Nuclear weapons can be used to disrupt incoming asteroids (“Nuclear Weapons are Necessary in Today's World”). Also, nuclear weapons have been instrumental in preventing a war between great powers such as seen during the world wars. If there were no nuclear weapons, the world would be less peaceful because there would be no risk of waging a nuclear conflict so disastrous that millions of people die and radiological effects cause death for years afterward as seen in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (McMahon). It is these same nuclear weapons that protect millions when used defensively.
A solution to this nuclear problem is to reduce the size of nuclear stockpiles in all nuclear possessing states and to honor the international treaties of nuclear use for defensive purposes only which have already been put in place by the NATO “No First Use” policy and these laws remain unbroken. The consequences of a nuclear exchange would be disastrous and devastating for the entire world, yet, nuclear weapons remain newly produced and increasingly developed. The nuclear problem must be solved before the world is ended.