• By 1962, the two global superpowers were on
the brink of nuclear war.
• This was a result of the years of suspicion
since WW2 but in particular these events
– U2 incident (1960)
– The Bay of Pigs Invasion (April 1961)
– Berlin Wall (August 1961)
– US missiles in Turkey (April 1962)
– Cuban Missile Crisis (October 1962)
• By the end of 1962 it was clear that the US
and USSR needed to negotiate with each
other to avoid the possibility of a nuclear
Third World War.
• This led to the era of Détente, a French word
that means a relaxing of tension.
• During the Détente years the superpowers
moved from threatening each other with
MASSIVE RETALIATION (using every weapon
possible if attacked)
• to the realization that the use of nuclear
weapons would be MAD (Mutually Assured
Destruction) and that a balance needed to be
# of Nuclear Weapons
Reasons for Detente
• Both superpowers had reasons to improve
• US fighting in Vietnam - needed to slow Arms
Race to reduce burden on economy.
• USSR concerned about the growth Communist
China on its south eastern border.
• Both sides wanted to reduce economic
• From 1946 to 1974, the United States military
costs were in excess of $1.3 trillion* on
national security alone;
• this compared to $1.6 trillion spent by the
federal government for all nonmilitary goods
and services since 1789.
• *1 trillion= 1,000,000,000,000
Détente Timeline
• 1963 Presidential Hotline between the leaders of
the US and USSR was set up;
• 1963: Partial Test Ban Treaty signed by 108
nations banned nuclear tests above ground. This
was due to the amount of radioactive fallout from
atmospheric tests that was being found around
the world.
• 1968: Non-proliferation Treaty which banned
spread of nuclear weapons or technology was
signed by 115 nations .
• 1969: Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT)
began - reducing mid-range nuclear weapons
between the US and USSR.
• 1972: President Nixon visits Moscow and SALT* 1
treaty signed.
• 1973: Soviet Leader Leonid Brezhnev visits USA
• 1975: Space - US astronauts and Soviet
Cosmonauts docked together in space.
• *SALT ( Strategic Arms Limitation Talks)
Helsinki Agreement:
• August 1975.
– signed by 35 countries (including USSR,US, Canada
and all of Europe except Albania and Andorra).
– There was a Declaration of Human Rights and
– The current borders of Europe were accepted and
it was agreed that no one would try to change
these by force.
– This was a demonstration of commitment to
improve relations.
• 1979: SALT 2 treaty proposed to cover long-range
nuclear missiles was signed but..
• Never ratified by US Congress due to Soviet
invasion of Afghanistan.
• USSR claimed they had been asked to 'restore
• US saw it as an invasion and supported Afghan
• This was considered the end of Détente and a
return to a more dangerous time.

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