Thesis Title

The Nuclear Test Ban Issue: An Examination Of Its History And Implications For The Future


Matthew McGee

Date of Graduation

Spring 2002


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

William Van Cleave

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


During the Cold War, the United States nuclear testing program provided the foundation for modernizing and maintaining America's nuclear deterrent and for the development and certification of nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, several administrations have debated the issues surrounding various limitations on testing nuclear weaons including a comprehensive test ban treaty. Although arms control attempts to limit testing started during the Eisenhower adminstration, the issues and questions surrounding a test ban have generally remained the same. Throughout the 1940s and much of the 1950s, nuclear tests were conducted above ground and in the atmosphere. The testing program, however, was required to move underground in 1963. Subterranean testing continued until a testing moratorium was passed by Congress and reluctantly signed by President George Bush in 1992. Since 1995, the United States has relied on the Department of Energy's Stockpile Stewardship Program to "test" nuclear weapons virtually through a computer-generated simulation. This thesis reviews the nuclear test ban issue, the history and evolution of nuclear testing, and the impact of arms control attempts to limit testing. It also addresses U.S. policy options concerning testing for the present and the future.


© Matthew McGee