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President Kennedy Signs Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

Oct. 7, 1963 - President Kennedy signed documents ratifying the limited nuclear test-ban treaty today, calling the pact a “beginning” — the “first fruits of hope” for peace. At a ceremony in the Treaty Room in the White House, the President pledged the U.S. to abide by the letter and spirit of the agreement. He also promised that this country would be alert to any violation of the treaty, which prohibits nuclear testing in the atmosphere, in space, or under water. Underground testing is permissible and will continue to be carried out by the U.S. “Today,” the President said, “the fear is a little less and the hope a little greater. For the first time, we have been able to reach an agreement which can limit the dangers of this age.” In the Treaty Room, on the second floor of the White House, the President was flanked by Vice President Johnson, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, and other high-ranking officials, including Sen. Everett Dirksen (R-Ill.), the Senate minority leader, whose speech in favor of the treaty was credited with diminishing the opposition. In signing the documents, the President used 16 pens, which he later gave to his guests, the first going to Sen. J. William Fulbright (D-Ark.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “I haven’t got one for myself,” the President exclaimed. So, he opened up one of the copies of the treaty, underlined part of a signature, and stuck the pen in his coat pocket. With the test-ban treaty now signed and the “hot line” installed between Washington and Moscow, the Administration is hopeful that further improvements may be made in Soviet-American relations. This week, for example, the President may approve the sale of surplus American wheat to the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, this is expected to be a single transaction rather than a new pattern for East-West trade relations.


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