46 Years Ago In TIME

As the Bush Pentagon mulls loosening the traditional constraints the U.S. has placed on its nuclear arms, which limit their use to retaliation or extraordinary combat situations, it is interesting to see how TIME described their deterrent effect in a 1956 cover on THE MISSILE..

The ICBM is the nearest thing to an "ultimate weapon," complete with delivery system, that has ever been conceived. From U.S.-controlled territory, it could reach any part of the world, wreck the biggest city by blast and heat. Then the radioactive byproducts, drifting with the wind, could turn an area the size of many nations...

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