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Long Road to Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Began This Week

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It was on August 22nd, 1958 that President Dwight Eisenhower called for negotiations with the Soviet Union to craft a treaty ending nuclear weapons testing.

 


 

Eisenhower makes his announcement on the nuclear test ban treaty negotiations on August 22nd, 1958. Listen to his statement here. (Courtesy Eisenhower Library).


Ike’s efforts, followed by his successor, President Kennedy, did not produce the comprehensive test ban that they desired. However, in 1963 they did achieve the Limited Test Ban Treaty banning nuclear tests in the atmosphere, underwater, and in outer space.

This set the stage for the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), signed 33 years later, which was meant to end all nuclear weapons testing. Still, this treaty has not taken effect as the United States and eight other nations have not ratified it.

The Eisenhower years kicked off a cascade of research into detecting potential violations of the test ban treaty, which has formed the basis of the international monitoring system that exists today. Backed by over 50 years of research, this system offers an extremely high degree of reliability that potential treaty violations would be caught.

Eisenhower believed a test ban treaty would make a valuable stepping stone toward nuclear disarmament. Today’s Global Zero movement really rests on whether the CTBT enters into force. This is the big hurdle to clear in the next year or so as the CTBT is reintroduced into the Senate. The treaty was rejected by the Senate in 1999.

The alternative of resuming nuclear weapons testing would open the door to a new arms race among the superpowers and heighten international tension. The potential expense of such an endeavor would place a heavy burden on the citizens of the world. Already, expensive proposals for the nuclear weapons establishment are making their way through the Senate.

August 29th is the International Day Against Nuclear Weapons Tests. To contact your senators about supporting the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, please visit www.senate.gov.

About William Lambers

William Lambers is the author of several books including Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World. This book features over 50 interviews with officials from the UN World Food Programme and other charities discussing school feeding programs that fight child hunger. He is also the author of Nuclear Weapons, The Road to Peace: From the Disarming of the Great Lakes to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Open Skies for Peace, The Spirit of the Marshall Plan: Taking Action Against World Hunger, School Lunches for Kids Around the World, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, From War to Peace and the Battle of Britain. He is also a writer for the History News Service. His articles have been published by newspapers including the Cincinnati Enquirer, Des Moines Register, the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Buffalo News, San Diego Union Tribune, the Providence Journal, Free Lance-Star (VA), the Bakersfield Californian, the Washington Post, Miami Herald (FL), Chicago Sun-Times, the Patriot Ledger (MA), Charleston Sunday Gazette Mail (WV), the Cincinnati Post, Salt Lake Tribune (UT), North Adams Transcript (MA), Wichita Eagle (KS), Monterey Herald (CA), Athens Banner-Herald (GA) and the Duluth News Journal. His articles also appear on History News Network (HNN) and Think Africa Press. Mr. Lambers is a graduate of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio with degrees in Liberal Arts (BA) and Organizational Leadership (MS). He is also a member of the Feeding America Blogger Council.