disarmament


disarmament
/dis ahr"meuh meuhnt/, n.
1. the act or an instance of disarming.
2. the reduction or limitation of the size, equipment, armament, etc., of the army, navy, or air force of a country.
[1785-95; DISARM + -ament, after ARMAMENT]

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Reduction in armaments by one or more nations.

Arms reductions may be imposed by a war's victors on the defeated (as happened after Germany's defeat in World War I). Bilateral disarmament agreements may apply to a specific area (such an agreement has kept the Great Lakes weapon-free since 1817). The term is most commonly used for multilateral reduction and limitation agreements, particularly in the context of nuclear weapons. See also arms control.

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▪ military policy
      in international relations, any of four distinct conceptions: (1) the penal destruction or reduction of the armament of a country defeated in war (the provision under the Versailles Treaty (Versailles, Treaty of) [1919] for the disarmament of Germany and its allies is an example of this conception of disarmament); (2) bilateral disarmament agreements applying to specific geographic areas (naval disarmament in this sense is represented by the Rush–Bagot Agreement between the United States and Great Britain, which, since 1817, has kept the Great Lakes disarmed); (3) the complete abolition of all armaments, as advocated by utopian thinkers and occasionally by governments; and (4) the reduction and limitation of national armament by general international agreement through such international forums as the League of Nations (Nations, League of), in the past, and the United Nations, in the present. This last is the most frequent current use of the term.

      Disarmament has become a more urgent and complicated issue with the rapid development of nuclear weapons capable of mass destruction. Since the explosion of the first atomic bombs in 1945, the previous contention that armaments races were economically inexpedient and led inevitably to war was replaced by the argument that the future use of nuclear weapons in quantity threatened the continued existence of civilization itself. During the post-World War II period, there were discussions at several levels with a view to the limitation and control of armaments. Efforts ranged from continuous talks at the United Nations to such discussions among nuclear powers as the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) of the 1970s and the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) of the 1980s. See also arms control.

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Universalium. 2010.

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