Finding a home for arms control : the origins of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (1945-1961)




Buchleiter, Jonathan Alan

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The advent of nuclear weapons in 1945 left US policymakers simultaneously heartened and horrified. Atomic bombs epitomized the apex of American power at the end of World War II, but the destructiveness of these new weapons also posed grave dangers to the US and the world. This paper explores US policymakers’ efforts to rein in atomic energy, first through proposed frameworks for international control and later through multilateral and bilateral limitations on nuclear weapons. Early efforts struggled to gain traction due to both persistent international tensions and an insufficient institutional framework to develop and promote arms control measures within the growing national security establishment. I argue that addressing the deficiencies of US arms control and disarmament policy helped enable diplomatic successes when conditions for compromise arose during the Cold War. Establishing the semi-autonomous Arms Control and Disarmament Agency with a sizable budget, sufficient staff, and empowered director served as a critical step to research and negotiation arms control and nonproliferation agreements during the 1960s and 1970s



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