It is said that there were sixteen known nuclear crises during the cold war. Some suspect that this is not a complete list, and I would be happy to add any additional data to this list. Nearly all of these crises were at heart opperations of the United States, although it can be argued that ultimate fault may lie with the Soviet Union, or even China. This is to a large degree that after gaining an approximately ten-year head start in the nuclear arms race. It also was the U.S. policy that with its dominance, it would not be afraid to escalate to nuclear war, at which time, any other country would be forced to back down (principal of Escalation Dominance). Another reason is that the United States, with its Freedom of Information Act, is arguably the least secretive of almost any country directly involved in the cold war and has released a good deal of information regarding its nuclear related aggressions. These cases are also intended to give the reader a more accurate idea as to at what stakes the cold war was fought, and in my mind, the whole planet came out as the victor, as it came out in one piece, and with hope for the future.

  1. The Azerbaijan Crisis in 1946
    1. lasted one day, approximate nuclear weapons totals: USA 40, USSR 0
  2. United States nuclear threat against Yugoslavia in 1946 while fighting communists in the Greek Civil War
    1. lasted one day, approximate nuclear weapons totals: USA 40, USSR 0
  3. Blockade of Berlin and Operation Broiler 1948-1949
    1. lasted 15 months, approximate nuclear weapons totals: USA 120, USSR 0
  4. Nuclear weapons and the Korean War, also MacArthur and dropping the bomb on China (Joint Chiefs convince higher ups to use nuclear weapons if talks at Panmunjon are unsuccecsful)
    1. lasted 36 months, approximate nuclear weapons totals: USA 400, USSR ?
  5. The threat of nuclear war to protect France's (and anti-Comunist) interests in Vietnam (Operation Vulture), in 1954
    1. lasted 3 months, approximate nuclear weapons totals: USA 1200, USSR ?
  6. First Taiwan Strait Crisis at Quemoy and Matsu Islands, 1954-1955
    1. lasted 8 months, approximate nuclear weapons totals: USA 1200, USSR ?
  7. Suez Canal Crisis in 1956
    1. lasted 7 days, approximate nuclear weapons totals: USA 2100, USSR 60
  8. Second Taiwan Strait Crisis at Quemoy and Matsu Islands, 1958
    1. lasted 2 months, approximate nuclear weapons totals: USA 3000, USSR 110
  9. Crisis 9 East German Missile non-Crisis in 1958-1958
    1. lasted 4 months, approximate nuclear weapons totals: USA 3200, USSR 175
  10. Crisis 10 Nuclear threats and the status of Berlin in 1961
    1. lasted 4 months, approximate nuclear weapons totals: USA 3600, USSR 240
  11. Cuban Missile Crisis
    1. lasted 2 weeks, approximate nuclear weapons totals: USA 3900, USSR 300
  12. President Nixon's secret plan to end the Vietnam War - Operation Duckhook, (SAC was put on defcon one for 29 days in 1962)
    1. lasted 3 months, approximate nuclear weapons totals: USA 4000, USSR 1400
  13. US nucular threats during Jordan's Black September (1970) keep USSR from becoming involved
    1. lasted 2 weeks, approximate nuclear weapons totals: USA 4000, USSR 1800
  14. Escalation Dominance again used to keep USSR from interfering in the Yom Kippur War in 1973
    1. lasted 19 days, approximate nuclear weapons totals: USA 6800, USSR 2200
  15. US uses threat of nuclear war to prevent USSR from supporting Iran in the Iran-Iraq war in 1980 (resulting in Soviet cooperation with the west in the war)
    1. lasted 6 months, approximate nuclear weapons totals: USA 10312, USSR 6846
  16. US policy of disarming first strike 1983-1985
    1. lasted 24 months, consists of major arms increases, followed by treaty to begin reduction

I intend on fleshing out some of the hardlinks on this list. I ask for a week or so to do so, however, I will not be offended if anyone beats me to it. Also, go ahead and find additional occurances, and add them in an additional wu or msg me to add them. And, if anyone has any information on other plans to break the Berlin blockade (Operation Sizzle?, Operation Lean Mean Griling Machine?) please msg me to add them.
this list was inspired by The Sixteen Known Nuclear Crises of the Cold War, 1946-1985 by David R. Morgan (hence, this is my main source) although much of this also comes from history class notes (i tried to verify it all through the internet and my history books too)

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