The Limited Test Ban Treaty

  • Benjamin S. Loeb


The Limited Test Ban Treaty came at the end of nearly five years of frustrated efforts to obtain a comprehensive test ban. Negotiations toward that end had begun in October 1958. At the same time a voluntary, informal moratorium on tests was initiated. The negotiations soon stalled over the Soviet Union’s resistance to internationally supervised inspections on its soil. This problem mostly concerned underground tests, which were difficult to distinguish from earthquakes with monitoring equipment located far from the test site. To overcome the problem, President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposed in April 1959 a phased ban that was to be limited at first to atmospheric tests conducted below an altitude of 50 kilometers. Such tests were thought to be easily verifiable. The Soviets rejected this idea and continued to insist that a complete test ban need not require numerous inspections. The two sides nevertheless appeared to be nearing agreement on a treaty to ban all but relatively small underground tests when, in May 1960, an U.S. U-2 reconnaissance plane was shot down over Soviet territory. The bitter recriminations against Eisenhower that followed made it impossible to progress further toward a test ban while he was president.1


Nuclear Weapon Foreign Relation Senate Committee Congressional Record Edward Teller 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Selected Bibliography

Books and Articles

  1. Bundy, McGeorge. Danger and Survival: Choices About the Bomb in the First Fifty Years. New York: Random House, 1988.Google Scholar
  2. Chang, Gordon H. Friends and Enemies: The United States, China, and the Soviet Union, 1948–1972. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1990.Google Scholar
  3. Cousins, Norman. The Improbable Triumvirate: John F. Kennedy, Pope John XXIII, Nikita Khrushchev, New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 1972.Google Scholar
  4. Fetter, Steve. Toward a Comprehensive Test Ban. Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger, 1988.Google Scholar
  5. Hewlett, Richard G., and Jack M. Holl. Atoms for Peace and War, 1953–1961: Eisenhower and the Atomic Energy Commission. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989.Google Scholar
  6. Jacobson, Harold Karan, and Eric Stein. Diplomats, Scientists and Politicians: The United States and the Nuclear Test Ban Negotiations. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1966.Google Scholar
  7. Krepon, Michael. Strategic Stalemate: Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control in American Politics. New York: St. Martins Press, 1985.Google Scholar
  8. National Academy of Sciences. “Nuclear Test Bans.” Chapter 7 in Nuclear Arms Control: Background and Issues. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1985.Google Scholar
  9. Nitze, Paul H., with Ann M. Smith and Steven L. Rearden. From Hiroshima to Glasnost: At the Center of Decision. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1989.Google Scholar
  10. Rovere, Richard. “Letter from Washington.” The New Yorker, October 4, 1963, 149–56.Google Scholar
  11. Rusk, Dean, as told to Richard Rusk. As I Saw It. New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 1990.Google Scholar
  12. Schlesinger, Arthur M., Jr. One Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1965.Google Scholar
  13. Seaborg, Glenn T., with the assistance of Benjamin S. Loeb. Kennedy, Khrushchev and the Test Ban. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981.Google Scholar
  14. —. with Benjamin S. Loeb. Stemming the Tide: Arms Control in the Johnson Years. Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books, 1987.Google Scholar
  15. Sorensen, Theodore C. Decision-Making in the White House: The Olive Branch or the Arrows. New York: Columbia University Press, 1963.Google Scholar
  16. —. Kennedy. New York: Harper & Row, 1965.Google Scholar
  17. Terchek, Ronald J. The Making of the Test Ban Treaty. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1970.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Government Publications

  1. John F. Kennedy Library. Presidential Recordings, Transcripts, Winning Support for the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, 1963. Opened for research use October 6, 1988.Google Scholar
  2. U.S. Congress. Senate. Message from the President Transmitting the Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere. 88th Cong., 1st sess., August 8, 1963.Google Scholar
  3. U.S. Congress. Senate. Committee on Armed Services. Preparedness Investigating Subcommittee. Military Implications of the Proposed Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Interim Report. 88th Cong., 1st sess., September 9, 1963.Google Scholar
  4. U.S. Congress. Senate. Committee on Foreign Relations. Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Hearings. 88th Cong., 1st sess., August 12–27, 1963.Google Scholar
  5. —. The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Report. 88th Cong., 1st sess., September 3, 1963.Google Scholar
  6. —. Test Ban Negotiations and Disarmament, Hearings. 88th Cong., 1st sess., March 11, 1963.Google Scholar
  7. —. To Promote Negotiations for a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Hearings. 93d Cong., 1st sess., May 1, 1973.Google Scholar
  8. U.S. Department of State. Office of the Historian. Bureau of Public Affairs. Administration Strategy Toward Congress on Three Nuclear Arms Issues (Limited Test Ban Treaty, Nonproliferation Treaty, SALT I Agreements). Research project no. 1189. March 1978.Google Scholar

Unpublished Works

  1. Bunn, George. “Finding a Test Ban Formula.” Draft chapter from “Too Many Cooks? Bargaining by Committee for Nuclear Arms Control.” Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  2. Heckrotte, Warren. “The Debate on the Comprehensive Test Ban at the Geneva Disarmament Conference, 1962 to Present.” Internal Atomic Energy Commission memorandum, October 20, 1970.Google Scholar
  3. Huddle, Franklin Pierce. “The Limited Test Ban Treaty and the United States Senate.” Thesis, The American University, 1965.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Henry L. Stimson Center 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin S. Loeb

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations