For those of you that subscribe to the method of evolution as the origin of our species, there are many types of “arms races” between species as they developed over time. For example, if you have cheetahs and gazelles then the cheetahs will likely kill off all the gazelles with the genetic predispositions that make them slow, resulting in a faster race of gazelles. The gazelles then outrun the slower cheetahs, starving out all the cheetahs with the genetic predispositions that also make them slow. The result is the back and forth swing of the pendulum, in favor of the cheetah and the gazelle. The two species “raced” for superiority, lopping off undesirable traits to make for a more effective and survivable animal, one trait at a time.

However, in evolution there was no intent or direction, not like in our current nuclear arms races between world powers. In the light of the recent developments with North Korea’s ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles) capabilities, the world is seeing another nation struggle to try to find its place among the nuclear powers of the earth. While many lay people laugh at the struggles of a country developing their poor nuclear capabilities, major powers around the world are watching closely as the nation’s leadership isn’t exactly a bastion of stability. No one is expecting another form of cheetah in the mix, but that doesn’t mean that these rising nuclear powers come without danger.

The U.S. first built nuclear bombs in WWII, detonating two of them in Japan. For a while, they held all the cards when it came to nuclear firepower. It was an interesting weapon, as it soon became the only weapon in the nation’s arsenal that was just as much of a political weapon as it was a tool of war, and so it was taken out of the hands of generals and military officials, and placed under the control of the sitting president.

It wasn’t until 1949 that the Soviets successfully detonated their own nuclear weapon, and what was once a monopoly would soon become an arms race. Like the lopping off of slow gazelles and cheetahs, necessity forced the nations to stay one step ahead of their nemesis, and developments in tech shot upward. Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) were developed in the 1950s, and with that came the development of all sorts of countermeasures to keep them at bay. Submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) would come into play, adding another element of stealth and surprise as the launch platforms are now mobile and deep under the cover of the ocean’s waters.


Most generations of the world today have lived under the constant threat of nuclear destruction, which culminated in the Cuban Missile Crisis, almost resulting in the first nuclear war in human history. The blanket of safety comes in the form of “mutually assured destruction” (MAD), which basically means that if one nuclear power fires upon another, they do it at their own risk—it is likely that they too will get annihilated. SLBMs have solidified MAD between countries like the U.S. and Russia. Not a very comforting deterrent, but a deterrent nonetheless.