Limited Test Ban Treaty

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Limited Test Ban Treaty

The Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT), sometimes called the Partial Test Ban Treaty, was first signed in 1963 by the United States, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.), and the United Kingdom. It prohibits the testing of Nuclear Weapons in the atmosphere, underwater, or in space. As the first significant arms control agreement of the Cold War, the LTBT set an important precedent for future arms negotiations.

The LTBT followed quickly on the heels of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, in which the United States and the U.S.S.R. came to the brink of war over the Soviet Union's placement of missiles in Cuba. Alarmed at the prospect of nuclear war, President john f. kennedy, of the United States, and Premier Nikita Khrushchev, of the Soviet Union, agreed to begin serious arms control negotiations. The LTBT was one of the first fruits of these negotiations. Proponents of the treaty claimed that it would prevent contamination of the environment by radioactive fallout from nuclear testing, slow down the arms race, and inhibit the spread of nuclear weapons to other countries. Although Kennedy hailed the LTBT as a significant achievement of his presidency, he was disappointed that he could not secure a comprehensive test ban treaty, which would have banned all forms of nuclear testing. Lacking such a ban, the superpowers and other countries with nuclear capability continued to test nuclear weapons underground. However, article 1, section b, of the LTBT pledges that each of its signatory countries will seek "a treaty resulting in the permanent banning of all nuclear test explosions, including all such explosions underground." By 1973, a total of 106 countries had signed the LTBT, and by 1992, that number had grown to 119.

Later test ban treaties have included the Threshold Test Ban Treaty of 1974, which prohibited nuclear tests of more than 150 kilotons (the explosive force of 150,000 tons of TNT), and the Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty of 1976. Although a comprehensive test ban agreement has not yet been reached, the nuclear powers and many nations without nuclear capabilities continue to negotiate the provisions of such a treaty.

Further readings

Kegley, Charles W., Jr., and Eugene R. Wittkopf. 1993. World Politics. 4th ed. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Palmer, R.R. 1984. A History of the Modern World. New York: Knopf.

Sheehan, Michael. 1988. Arms Control: Theory and Practice. Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell.

United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. 1982. Arms Control and Disarmament Agreements. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.


Arms Control and Disarmament.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
This article contributes to our understanding of Kennedy's foreign policy by examining Kennedy's leadership in successfully concluding the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT).
The empirical basis of the study rests on eight case studies: negotiations producing the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty, the 1983 agreement on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures and Disarmament in Europe, the 1990 treaty and 1992 applications on Conventional Forces in Europe, the nonagreement on an international trade organization in 1947-48, the GATT Uruguay Round agreement in 1993, the Vienna, Montreal, and Helsinki agreements of 1985, 1987, and 1990 on the ozone layer, the Basel Convention on Hazardous Wastes of 1989, and the 1992 Climate Change Convention.
If the United States were to join the test ban, it would fulfill the hope President Kennedy voiced when he signed the limited test ban treaty in 1963.
That year, he used diplomacy relentlessly and skillfully to achieve a breakthrough nuclear agreement with the Soviet Union, the Limited Test Ban Treaty.
These pressures, plus a desire to improve U.S.-Soviet relations in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, led to the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963, which banned nuclear explosions in the atmosphere, in space, and under water.
The 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty, which more than 115 nations have adopted, prohibits nuclear tests in the atmosphere, underwater, and in outer space.
Just seven weeks after the peace speech, the Americans and Soviets signed the Limited Test Ban Treaty, a landmark agreement to slow the Cold War arms race that would have been unthinkable only months earlier.
Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif., wrote in SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN: "In 1963 [when the Limited Test Ban Treaty was signed] the reliability of measures for the verification of a treaty banning explosions larger than about 1 kiloton may have been arguable, but it no longer is." With its present network of seismic stations, spread over about 35 countries, the United States can detect explosions with yields less than 3 KT (which trigger magnitude 4 or 5 seismic signals) with high confidence, says Robert R.

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