Arms control advocates had campaigned for the adoption of
a treaty banning all nuclear explosions since the early 1950s, when public
concern was aroused as a result of radioactive fall-out from atmospheric
nuclear tests and the escalating arms race.
Over 50 nuclear explosions were registered between 16 July 1945, when
the first nuclear explosive test was conducted by the United States at
Alamogordo, New Mexico, and 31 December 1953.
Prime Minister Nehru of India voiced the heightened international
concern in 1954, when he proposed the elimination of all nuclear test
However, within the context of the cold war, scepticism in the
capability to verify compliance with a comprehensive nuclear-test
ban-treaty posed a major obstacle to any agreement.
Partial Test Ban Treaty, 1963
success was achieved with the signing of the Partial Test Ban Treaty in
1963, which banned nuclear tests in the atmosphere, underwater and in
space. However, neither France nor China, both nuclear weapon States,
signed the PTBT.
Non-proliferation Treaty, 1968
step towards the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons came with the
signing of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968. Under the
NPT, non-nuclear weapon States were prohibited from, inter alia,
possessing, manufacturing or acquiring nuclear weapons or other nuclear
explosive devices. All signatories were committed to the goal of nuclear
Negotiations for the CTBT
political situation prevailing in the subsequent decades, little progress
was made in nuclear disarmament until 1991. Parties to the PTBT held an
amendment conference that year to discuss a proposal to convert the Treaty
into an instrument banning all nuclear-weapon tests; with strong support
from the UN General Assembly, negotiations for a comprehensive test-ban
treaty began in 1993.
Adoption of the CTBT, 1996
efforts were made over the next three years to draft the Treaty text and
its two annexes, culminating in the adoption of the Comprehensive
Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) on 10 September 1996 by the United Nations
General Assembly in New York.
The CTBT, which prohibits all nuclear test explosions in all
environments, was opened for signature in New York on 24 September 1996,
when it was signed by 71 States, including the five nuclear-weapon States.