In March 1958 the Soviet Union declared it was halting tests of atomic and hydrogen bombs. It called on the other nuclear powers, the United States and Britain, to do the same. Moscow warned that it would resume testing if their example was ignored. In October 1958 the United States, Britain and the USSR began negotiations for a more permanent ban on nuclear testing.
The Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, signed in Moscow in August 1963 :
- prohibited nuclear weapons tests or other nuclear explosions under water, in the atmosphere, or in outer space
- allowed underground nuclear tests as long as no radioactive debris falls outside the boundaries of the nation conducting the test
- pledged signatories to work towards complete disarmament, an end to the armaments race, and an end to the contamination of the environment by radioactive substances.
In 1996, the United Nations General Assembly Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, prohibited “any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion.” Although President Bill Clinton signed the treaty along with more than 180 nations, the U.S. Senate rejected the treaty in 1999. Those who objected argued that a ban on testing would damage the safety and reliability of America’s existing nuclear arsenal, and claimed it would be impossible to guarantee treaty compliance by all countries.
China, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the United States, have not ratified the treaty.