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 ?
1963: October: Partial Test Ban Treaty, agreed between United States, Britain and Soviet Union, prohibits all testing in the atmosphere, outer space or under water.
[paragraph] In 1993, initiate five-power talks with the declared nuclear states--and parallel discussions in the Disarmament Conference and the Partial Test Ban Treaty Amendment Conference--aimed at completing a multilateral comprehensive test ban as soon as possible, to take effect, at the latest, by the opening of the 1995 renewal conference for the Nonproliferation Treaty.
Moscow followed suit and the Partial Test Ban Treaty was signed.
In 1963, the hand was set back 12 minutes to midnight after the Partial Test Ban Treaty between the U.S.

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