United States
Soviet Union
Southeast Asia
United States
    1945 Feb    
Joseph Stalin, Winston Chuchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt meet at the Yalta Conference. The main issue discussed is the future of post-war Europe. The three powers come to an agreement that an interim government will rule in the Eastern European nations. This will be followed by free elections in the nations.

Text of the agreement reached at the Yalta Conference.

    1947 Mar    
In response to a threat by a Communist-led resistance movement to take over the government of Greece, the United States releases the Truman Doctrine. In it, the United States promises to help stabilise legal foreign governments from threats by Communist forces. $400 million is given by the US government to support anti-Communist forces in Turkey and Greece.

    1947 Jun    
In another step to combat the spread of Communism, the United States announces the Marshall Plan. In it, the United States commits itself to a massive economic aid programme designed to rebuild Western European countries. It also hopes to restore productivity as well as prevent Communist inroads. The plan pours more than $13 billion into Europe.

    1949 Apr    
Western Europe, Canada and the United States form the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This mutual defense pact has an initial membership of 11 nations.

President Truman, threatened by Soviet capability to create an atomic bomb, increases production of atomic weapons. By 1950, the United States possess nearly 300 atomic bombs.

    1952 Nov    
The United States raises the stakes in the nuclear arms race by the creation of and testing of a hydrogen bomb. The first hydrogn bomb is detonated at Enewetok Atoll in the Marshall Island.

    1954 Jun    
The U.S. ICBM project receives top priority.

The U-2 spy plane which has the capacity to fly above the Soviet Union out of the range of Soviet air defense, is created. The United States also launches a research program to develop reconnaissance satellites capable of observing the U.S.S.R. from outer space.

    1955 Jul    
President Eisenhower announces his "open skies" proposal in which the United States and the Soviet Union are to exchange blueprints of all military installations. They are also to allow the other side to conduct unhindered aerial reconnaissance. Khrushchev denounces the plan. Tension mounts between the two nations.

More information on President Eisenhower.

Pictures of President Eisenhower.

    1955 Jul    
The Soviet Union and the Western powers hold the first of several summit conferences in Geneva, Switzerland, to address the key issues of the Cold War and to restore mutual trust between the countries. These issues include German reunification, the danger of nuclear attacks, and cultural and economic exchange. No conclusions are reached.

    1958 Jan    
The first U.S. satellite, Explorer I, is launched into orbit.

Interested in space shuttles? Take a look at the NASA web site.

    1960 May    
An American U-2 reconnaissance plane is shot down over central Soviet Union. Pilot Gary Powers is held by the Soviets.

    1960 Nov    
John F. Kennedy is elected president of the United States.

A photographic history of the life of John F Kennedy.

The Kennedy administration increases foreign aid for Third World nations whether or not they are politically aligned with the United States. The Alliance for Progress, created in March 1961, especially targets Latin America.

    1963 Aug    
The superpowers establish a direct communications link, or a "Hot Line" between Washington and Moscow for use in crisis situations.

    1963 Aug    
The Soviet Union, the United States and Britain sign an important treaty banning atmospheric nuclear tests.

    1964 Nov    
Lyndon Johnson is elected president of the United States.

    1968 Jul    
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is signed by Great Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union. They agree that they will not assist or encourage other nations to develop their own nuclear devices. The treaty goes into effect in 1970.

The text of the treaty

    1968 Nov    
Richard Nixon is elected president of the United States.

    1969 Nov    
The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) begins between the United States and the Soviet Union. The two nations negotiate curtailing the manufacture of strategic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

Read more about arms control and disarmament.

The U.S. increases the pace of the nuclear arms race with the deployment of Minuteman III, the first missiles with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs). This makes it possible to target many cities with nuclear weapons from a single missile.

    1972 May    
The period known as detente begins. President Nixon visits the Soviet Union and signs several agremeents with Brezhnev. The SALT I agreements fix the number of ICBMs that can be deployed by the armed forces of the two nations. Other agreements sign cover cooperation in space exploration, environmental matters, and trade.

More about the period of the Cold War known as "détente"

    1974 Nov    
The United States and the Soviet Union agree to limit their nuclear arsenals. Each side agrees to have no more than 2,400 strategic launchers.

    1975 Jul    
The United States and Soviet space programs cooperate. This leads to the successful docking in orbit of U.S. Apollo and U.S.S.R. Soyez satellites.

More about the Apollo-Soyez project, the first international manned spaceflight.

    1975 Aug    
The United States, the Soviet Union and 33 other countries sign the Helsinki Accords, in which member nations vow to respect boundaries and human rights, and to cooperate in economic, scientific, and humanitarian issues.

    1976 Nov    
Jimmy Carter is elected president of the United States.

    1979 Jun    
The SALT II treaty is signed by President Carter and Brezhnev in Vienna. It bans new ICBMs and limits other delivery vehicles. It is submitted to the U.S. Senate for ratification. However the Soviet's intervention in Afghanistan later that year halts such ratification. The period of détente between the United States and the Soviet Union ends.

    1979 Dec    
Carter calls for a major military build-up to counter Soviet military power.

    1979 Dec    
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to prop up the communist regime there causes tension between the United States and the Soviet Union. The United States responds by imposing a grain embargo on the Soviet Union, boycotting the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games and failing to ratify SALT II.

    1980 Nov    
Ronald Reagan is elected President of the United States.

    1983 Mar    
Reagan proposes the SGI (Strategic Defense Initiative, popularly known as Star Wars) to develop a space-based system to defend the nation from attack by strategic ballistic missiles. Reagan calls the Soviet Union an "evil empire".

    1987 Sep    
The United States and the Soviet Union agree to establish Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers in both countries to reduce the risks of accidental nuclear war.

    1987 Dec    
Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan sign the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, agreeing to eliminate a whole class of their nuclear missiles in Europe.

    1988 Nov    
George Bush is elected president of the United States.

    1990 May    
Gorbachev and George Bush initial a treaty to end the production of chemical weapons as well as a reduction of its stockpiles.

    1991 Jul    
The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) is signed by Gorbachev and Bush. It outlines cuts in strategic nuclear weapons.

Leaders During Cold War

Cold-War-at-a-Glance 2003