On August 6, 1945 the United States unleashed a weapon upon the Japanese city of Hiroshima, the likes of which the world had never seen. Then, on August 9 a second weapon was deployed against the Japanese, at Nagasaki. The weapons used were atomic bombs: nuclear fission devices capable of massive destructive capabilities. It is estimated that more than 250,000 Japanese citizens died as a result of the two bombs being dropped. While the employment of these weapons led to the end of World War II, it also forced the world into the nuclear age where man had the power to destroy cities and in some cases, ensure the destruction of entire nations.
In the years following World War II, The Limited Test Ban Treaty was developed to curtail the destructive testing of nuclear weapons by countries around the world. In this paper the history of the Limited Test Ban Treaty will be reviewed as well as the current and future status of this treaty, which remains in flux to this day.
After World War II the United States and several other nations, including the Soviet Union, continued the development and testing of nuclear weapons. In 1952 and 1953 the United States and the Soviet Union, respectively, detonated the first hydrogen bombs, which proved to be more powerful than the weapons used against Japan. At this time, concerns about the amount and effect of nuclear fallout produced by these weapons grew. In 1955, a group of five countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France and the Soviet Union formed a committee as part of the U.N. Disarmament Commission to discuss the cessation of nuclear weapons testing. The committee made little progress over the next several years due to disagreements over disarmament, test-bans, and most importantly verification of testing. The committee was concerned that underground testing could still be carried out in secret without a viable method of detection. During this period, most nuclear armed nations went back and forth between placing a moratorium on all nuclear testing to the resumption of testing in response to other nations’ nuclear tests. Finally, in 1963, the United States, United Kingdom, and Soviet Union all agreed to ban nuclear testing in the atmosphere, outer space, and underwater – all environments which could be adequately policed and verified. The Limited Test Ban Treaty as it was called, was signed on August 5, 1963 by Secretary of State Dean Rusk of the United States,...