From Yalta to Disarmament: Cold War Debate

By Joseph P. Morray | Go to book overview

17
Nuclear Testing

As the proposal to cease testing nuclear weapons soon developed a path of its own apart from the general discussion of disarmament, it will be convenient for us to follow the testing issue forward to the present time ( 1961) before resuming chronological study of negotiations over the other issues.

We have seen in the Indian Parliament, in the Bandung Conference, and in the May 10, 1955, declaration of the U.S.S.R. the origins of the proposal to stop nuclear testing. The Indian government continued to push the issue with great vigor. In July 1956 Mr. Krishna Menon requested a hearing before the Disarmament Commission, using it to present a detailed report on the evidence of harmful effects from nuclear testing and to urge an agreement on cessation.1 He was treated politely but found no support except from the Soviet delegate.

Mr. Wadsworth, the United States representative, in his reply to Mr. Krishna Menon, stood on United States responsibilities in justifying the continuation of tests:

The United States, however, has a responsibility not only to its own people, but to the peoples of the free world, to maintain its capacity to defend itself and to deter aggression. By so doing it contributes to the maintenance of international peace and security, which is a basic Charter goal. The basis for the United States capacity for self-defence and deterrence of aggression is in adequate weapons capability. In an age of rapid scientific advance, such a capability is not an objective that can be gained once and thereafter maintained without further effort. Especially is this true when the recent Soviet boasts of superiority in nuclear weapons indicate that they are developing them as rapidly as their resources and technology will permit. In the absence of any safeguarded agreement to limit these weapons, constant efforts for improvement must be made. . . .

The simple fact is that in the absence of arms control and in the face of constant new developments, a wide variety of weapons are required to provide the versatility and flexibility essential to defend against aggression whenever, wherever and however it may occur. No nation around this table would in seriousness propose or accept the proposition that in the absence of any agreements on safeguards, it should unilaterally stop all research, all development

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