ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From 50 Years Ago: Banning Nuclear Tests.

Letter from Geneva from Volume XII, No. 11, March 12, 1960.

Over fifteen months ago, the delegates of the three nuclear powers started the negotiations for banning nuclear tests. The delegates, their tech-nical experts, scientific and political advisers and observers on behalf of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, have held nearly 180 meet-ings. The ultimate aim of this conference is to draft a treaty for the control, detection and inspec tion of nuclear explosions. Both sides, USA and UK on the one hand and the USSR on the other, started from fixed positions. But as the seasons progressed, compromises were found possible. Agreement has already been reached on twenty-three articles of the proposed treaty. There seems to be four different ways of exploding nuclear bombs – in the atmosphere, in outer space, un-der water and underground. The first three methods involve danger to human life, though the degree of this danger is still a matter of con-troversy among the scientists. The last, viz, under-ground explosions are claimed to be harmless. It is with underground explosion that the ne-gotiators are now mainly occupied. The solution does not depend only on political considerations ...What should be the minimum number of ‘on-site inspections’ in order to detect ‘under-ground events’ is currently the basic problem confront-ing the members of the conference. There are, of course, other administrative and organisational details which remain to be settled. So there may well be another 180 meetings, if not more!

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