Nuclear Testing Dilemmas

March 21, 1962

Report Outline
Resumption of Nuclear Weapons Race
Deadlock on Inspection and Control
Controversy Over Dangers of Fallout

Resumption of Nuclear Weapons Race

Peremptory rejection by the Soviet Union, on the second day of the 17-nation disarmament conference which met at Geneva on March 14, of an Anglo-American draft treaty to ban nuclear weapons tests was a severe blow to hopes for East-West agreement on a first essential step toward general and complete disarmament. These hopes were revived in some measure by the statement of the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Home, March 20, that Great Britain, in addition to concessions already made in the Western draft treaty, would be willing to accept an “absolute minimum” of international inspection if Russia would agree to a reasonable compromise and permit negotiation of a definitive treaty to prohibit further tests of nuclear weapons.

Lacking such accomplishment at Geneva, President Kennedy has given notice that the United States will resume nuclear testing in the air by the end of April. The Soviet Union, which conducted its latest series of tests last autumn, has stated that it will test again if the United States does so. And it may not be long before Communist China enters the nuclear race. Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey (D Minn.), chairman of a Senate disarmament subcommittee, said last Jan. 22 that Peiping might explode an atomic device “anytime within this year.”

East-West Differences at Geneva on Testing

The draft treaty proposed by the United States and Great Britain on March 15 was a modified version, of a document presented by them at the three-power Geneva testban conference last April. The 1961 draft called for cessation of nuclear weapons tests above and below ground and under water; a voluntary moratorium on underground explosions of less than 19 kilotons; an annual quota of 20 onsite inspections of suspected clandestine tests on territories of each of the three nuclear powers; direction of an international control commission by a single administrator acceptable to the three countries.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Weapons of Mass Destruction
Jul. 29, 2016  Modernizing the Nuclear Arsenal
Mar. 08, 2002  Weapons of Mass Destruction
Jan. 31, 1997  Chemical and Biological Weapons
Jun. 24, 1994  Nuclear Arms Cleanup
Jun. 05, 1992  Nuclear Proliferation
Jun. 29, 1990  Obstacles to Bio-Chemical Disarmament
Apr. 22, 1988  The Military Build-Down in the 1990s
May 24, 1987  Euromissile Negotiations
Jul. 11, 1986  Chemical Weapons
Apr. 27, 1984  Reagan's Defense Buildup
Jun. 04, 1982  Civil Defense
Jul. 17, 1981  Controlling Nuclear Proliferation
Jun. 05, 1981  MX Missile Decision
Aug. 15, 1980  The Neutron Bomb and European Defense
Sep. 07, 1979  Atomic Secrecy
Mar. 17, 1978  Nuclear Proliferation
May 27, 1977  Chemical-Biological Warfare
May 13, 1977  Politics of Strategic Arms Negotiations
Nov. 15, 1974  Nuclear Safeguards
Jul. 01, 1970  Nuclear Balance of Terror: 25 Years After Alamogordo
Jun. 18, 1969  Chemical–Biological Weaponry
Jun. 30, 1965  Atomic Proliferation
Mar. 21, 1962  Nuclear Testing Dilemmas
Aug. 16, 1961  Shelters and Survival
Oct. 12, 1959  Chemical-Biological Warfare
May 13, 1959  Nuclear Test Ban
Dec. 04, 1957  Scientific Cooperation and Atlantic Security
May 15, 1957  Changing Defense Concepts
Jul. 03, 1956  Civil Defense, 1956
Nov. 16, 1955  International Arms Deals
Oct. 04, 1954  Industrial Defense
Apr. 15, 1954  National Defense Strategy
Feb. 10, 1954  New Aproaches to Atomic Control
Oct. 10, 1953  Atomic Information
Apr. 11, 1952  Biological Warfare
Oct. 03, 1951  World Arms Race
Feb. 04, 1948  International Control of Atomic Energy
Dec. 06, 1946  International Inspection
Aug. 27, 1943  Gas Warfare
Jul. 24, 1937  The New Race in Armaments
May 05, 1932  Abolition of Aggressive Weapons
Arms Control and Disarmament
U.S. at War: Cold War