This was a series of radar stations positioned across the Northern hemisphere to detect a Soviet missile attack. It was hoped that this would give the USA enough time to launch counter-measures.
Both sides knew that any attack upon the other would result in nuclear weapons being fired back, before their missiles had hit. This would cause catastrophic damage to both superpowers and their allies. The theory was that this would restrain each side from attacking the other.
By the 1970s, both sides had developed anti-ballistic missile systems (ABMs) to counteract the ICBMs.
Nicknamed ‘Star Wars’ by the American media. In 1983, President Reagan announced research into SDI. This initiative would give the USA the ability to destroy nuclear missiles from space.
The USSR saw this as a major threat, as it would allow the USA to achieve a First Strike. Because of financial and technological constraints, this never became a reality.
By 1953, the USA was spending $50 billion on the arms race, while the USSR was spending $25 billion. The USA had doubled its spending each year between 1949 and 1953. This shows how concerned the Americans were about the USSR catching up.