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A Nuclear Winter's TaleScience and Politics in the 1980s$
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Lawrence Badash

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780262012720

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262012720.001.0001

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Looking at Moscow

Looking at Moscow

(p.217) 15 Looking at Moscow
A Nuclear Winter's Tale

Lawrence Badash

The MIT Press

Whereas nuclear winter was widely reported in the news media in the United States after the phenomenon was announced publicly in October 1983, it received little attention in the Soviet Union until mid-1984. This can be attributed to increasing concern about the climatic consequences of nuclear war by the country’s political leaders. The superpowers’ top leaderships also differed in their reactions to nuclear winter. Nevertheless, Soviet scientists were not unprepared for nuclear winter investigations. In May 1983, an organization calling itself the Soviet Scientists’ Committee for the Defense of Peace Against Nuclear Threat (SSC) was established in response to heightened tensions caused by U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s plans for a Strategic Defense Initiative and his administration’s apparently cavalier attitude toward nuclear war. The U.S. Department of State was seemingly not interested in expanding scientific contact with the Soviets. In 1985, the Soviet nuclear winter program took a hit when its leading investigator, Vladimir Aleksandrov, disappeared in Spain.

Keywords:   nuclear winter, United States, Soviet Union, nuclear war, Ronald Reagan, Strategic Defense Initiative, Department of State, Vladimir Aleksandrov, Spain, scientists

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