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Non-deliverable nuclear bombs

  1. Sep 30, 2011 #1
    I was wondering why didn't both America and the USSR stop at non-deliverable nuclear bombs? I mean if making decisions based solely on game theory was the only way to insure safety by deterrence, then we should all be dead by now. Anyway, who was the first at creating deliverable bombs? Seemingly the cold war could have stopped right there.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 30, 2011 #2


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    Re: Non-deliverable nuclear bombs.

    What does one mean by non-deliverable? The original bombs were deliverable - by B29.

    But then it got complicated. The US and USSR both recruited (or coerced) rocket scientists from Germany (as well as their own) - the guys (e.g., Werner von Braun) who did V2.

    Post WWII, the various powers began developing longer range bombers and jet aircraft. By the 1950's, thermonuclear weapons were being developed. The motivation to develop nuclear propelled rockets was the heavy mass of the original nuclear weapons. Also in parallel, was the development of nuclear submarines that could stay underwater for longer periods, and get close to the shores of adversarial nations.

    The space program and commercial electronics spurred the development of smaller solid state electronics components, so that helped with the minaturization of nuclear weapons, so that by the 60's, chemical rockets could launch the biggest thermonuclear systems.

    The US and USSR had arsenals of bombers (e.g., B36, B47, B52, B58, the B1 and now B2), land-based ICBMs and submarine-based SLBMs. They managed to keep up with each other, and maintained a stand-off.

    They certainly could have delivered smaller systems at selected targets, but they didn't.
  4. Sep 30, 2011 #3
    Re: Non-deliverable nuclear bombs.

    Thanks Astronuc for that outline. I think I was confusing things a bit. What I simply meant was that the bombs would not be used to attack any nations, but this defeats the purpose of creating the bomb in the first place. Overall it's tantamount to saying that the bombs should never be used or have been built in the first place.
  5. Oct 1, 2011 #4
    Re: Non-deliverable nuclear bombs.

    Both sides realized this, but could never develope a degree of trust between them to stop thinking that the "other guys might develop a new system of delivery that would allow them to destroy us before we could react."
    Hence the arms race could only be stopped by either war, or the economic failure of one or more sides.
  6. Oct 1, 2011 #5


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    Re: Non-deliverable nuclear bombs.

    Well - had the world not been at war, and had the communist systems evolved more along the lines of socialism or socialist democracy in W. Europe, the arms race might not have occurred. However, world history is a history of adversarial conflicts among nations or groups.

    It was the economic failure of the Soviet Union that lead to an abrupt change.
  7. Oct 2, 2011 #6
    Re: Non-deliverable nuclear bombs.

    Watch Dr Strangelove the insanity (and the logic) of MAD comes clear.
  8. Oct 2, 2011 #7
    Re: Non-deliverable nuclear bombs.

    This must be the best of all possible worlds.
  9. Dec 1, 2013 #8
    That's scary. arms race could only be stopped by war or economic failure? I guess trying to wreck someone elses economy today is war?

    Anyone could deliver a undetected nuke payload today. all you need is a stealth plane and a kamikaze pilot..missles are detectable.

    Further, could you attack a nation with nuke power plants? If you do you risk taking out the property as well as endangering yourself imo.
  10. Dec 1, 2013 #9


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    Global thermonuclear war would not produce a healthy environment, either, not for the combatants nor for those nations not involved directly in the conflict.

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_winter
  11. Aug 16, 2014 #10
    Your question seems to assume to that game theory doesn't work. That's like saying physics doesn't work.
  12. Aug 19, 2014 #11
    Part of what makes Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) work is that neither side has a credible first-strike ability. For example, the Russians have about 8 submarines capable of launching nuclear ICBMs again US cities. So if we wanted to do a sneak attack, we would not only have to take out all of their land based missiles in one shot, but we would have to locate all of their "boomers" and destroy them as well.
  13. Aug 19, 2014 #12

    jim hardy

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    Another movie questioning the sanity of cold war arms race is
    "The Mouse that Roared"

    A most delightful Peter Sellers comedy.
    British satire at its best.

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  14. Aug 21, 2014 #13


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    It always has been- and has a history going back centuries.

    1) Why would "taking out the property" be a concern to the attacking nation?
    2) In every war the attacker endangers himself.
  15. Aug 22, 2014 #14

    I would say it is happening now. Against the US. Russia, China, ISIS, Iran, etc all cost the US economically either through the cost of funding wars or providing support to allied countries. Hence, the US is 17 trillion in debt. How long can the US go along keeping these adversaries at bay?
  16. Aug 24, 2014 #15


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    The following two books are highly informative and entertaining. They both discuss in detail the historic politics and ethical struggles over nuclear weapons in addition to the technical aspects.

    Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes

    Dark Sun, also by Rhodes
  17. Aug 24, 2014 #16

    jim hardy

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  18. Aug 24, 2014 #17


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    I heard an interesting point being made that small countries (both in area and population ) should have fewer restrictions on building nuclear weapons than larger ones : a bomb thrown in a small country like, say, Israel, landing in Tel-Aviv, could easily destroy the whole country, while a bomb landing in, say, Leningrad or DC/NYC could seriously hurt, but would not likely destroy either of the respective countries.
  19. Aug 26, 2014 #18
    Five cold war close calls.


    There was along period of years during the cold war before we began to comprehend the results of an all out nuclear war. The term nuclear winter wasn't coined until 1983.


    Bold mine
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