Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty of 1963

Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty of 1963


(in Russian, Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space, and Under Water), an international treaty signed in Moscow on Aug. 5, 1963, by representatives of the USSR, the USA, and Great Britain. The treaty became effective on Oct. 10, 1963, after it had been ratified by all the original parties to it (the USSR, the USA, and Great Britain) and after they had deposited the ratified documents. It is known as the Moscow Treaty.

The Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty was open for signature by all states, and by Feb. 1, 1972, 118 states were party to it. There is a preamble and five articles proclaiming the objectives of the parties to the treaty and defining their rights and obligations. According to the treaty, its parties desire the speediest possible attainment of an agreement on universal and total disarmament under strict international control. Such an agreement would put an end to the arms race and remove incentives to produce and test all kinds of weapons, including nuclear ones.

The treaty stipulates that each party to it pledges to prohibit, prevent, and refrain from carrying out nuclear weapons tests and all other nuclear explosions in any place under its jurisdiction or control. Nuclear weapons tests are prohibited in the atmosphere and beyond it, including outer space, and under water, including territorial waters and the high seas. In addition to banning nuclear weapons tests in these three areas, the treaty prohibits nuclear explosions in any other area, if such an explosion might cause radioactive fallout beyond the territorial borders of the state under whose jurisdiction or control it is carried out.

No period of time for the validity of the treaty was established. However, Article 4 states that if any party to the treaty decides that exceptional circumstances connected with the treaty jeopardize its higher interests, it may renounce the treaty after giving all other parties to the treaty three months’ notice.

The signing of the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty was an important step toward creating conditions for more fruitful negotiations on ending the arms race and reaching an agreement on disarmament. The Soviet Union continues to fight for the prohibition of underground nuclear tests as well.


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