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).
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.