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Partial Test Ban Treaty
Article 1, Section 1, Limited Test Ban Treaty
The Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) banned the testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere, in outer space, and underwater. It is also known as the Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT). As the first major arms control agreement of the cold war, the PTBT set an important precedent for future arms negotiations.
Although the treaty does not ban tests underground, it does prohibit explosions below the surface if they cause "radioactive debris to be present outside the territorial limits of the State under whose jurisdiction or control" the explosions were conducted. When signing the treaty, the nations of the world adopted a common goal of "an end to the contamination of man's environment by radioactive substances."
The nations who drafted the treaty disagreed on the best method to verify compliance. In order for the treaty to be effective, there needed to be a system of controls and inspection that could detect explosions (particularly underground) and prevent secret testing. The Western powers were adament to ensure that no clandestine violations would be allowed to go undetected.
The Soviet Union refused to accept for than three on-site inspections per year. The United States indicated its willingness to accept seven, but the Soviet Union rejected this number.
Control posts and detection stations are nationally owned and operated but have international oversight. The treaty has been succeeded by the most exhaustive Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, the United States and the USSR almost erupted into all-out nuclear war over the placement of the USSR's missiles in Cuba. After the crisis, President John F. Kennedy of the United States and Premier Nikita Khrushchev of the Soviet Union agreed to initiate serious arms controls negotiations. The Partial Test Ban Treaty was an early accomplishment of these multilateral negotiations.
The PTBT was opened for signature on August 5, 1963. The USSR, United Kingdom, and United States were the first to sign. It enetered into force on October 10, 1963. It currently has 119 parties, excluding France and the People's Republic of China.
American President Kennedy was disappointed the countries could not agree on a comprehensive test ban treaty. The PTBT did not ban underground tests, a loophole which was exploited by India and Pakistan in 1998. However, the following provision in the PTBT gave hope that a comprehensive agreement could be developed.
Article 1, Section 1, Subsection b, Limited Test Ban Treaty
In August 1988, six nations (Mexico, Indonesia, Peru, Sri Lanka, Yugoslavia, and Venezuela) proposed to amend the PTBT to extend its prohibition to all environments, essentially transforming the PTBT into a comprehensive test ban. The United States, however, conveyed to all nations at the international conference for amendment that it would block the conversion of the LTBT into a comprehensive ban.
- "Partial Test Ban Treaty." Answers.com. Answers Corporation. 8 Mar. 2006. <http://www.answers.com/topic/nuclear-test-ban-treaty>
- “Partial Test Ban Treaty.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 8 Mar. 2006 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Partial_Test_Ban_Treaty>
- "Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water." US Department of State. FirstGov. 8 Mar. 2006. <http://www.state.gov/t/ac/trt/4797.htm>.