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Realizing that the nuclear monopoly was over, and that this could quickly spiral into an expensive and dangerous arms race, the US reacted to the news of a Soviet bomb by putting together a plan to offer to turn over all weapons to the UN. This offer was rejected by the USSR, and an arms race ensued. Our secondary reaction, then was to develop our technology further, and a hydrogen thermonuclear device along with nuclear missiles would become realities within 6 years of the Soviet bomb test.
The Cold War had already begun, but this accelerated it into a new and much more dangerous phase.
The US did two major things to react to this. One was to try for a way to ensure nuclear peace. The other was to try to be stronger than the Russians.
The first thing that the US did was to propose a plan where both the US and the Soviet Union would turn over all their weapons to the United Nations so that neither nation would be able to use the weapons.
But at the same time (especially since that proposal went nowehere) the US started working on bigger bombs -- hydrogen bombs.
The US also adopted the ideas of NSC-68, which called for larger conventional forces so as to have an option other than nuclear war.
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