On August 5, 1963, after more than eight years of difficult negotiations, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union signed the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
The Limited Nuclear Test Ban treaty was signed in Moscow on August 5, 1963, by U.S. Secretary Dean Rusk, Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, and British Foreign Secretary Lord Home—one day short of the 18th anniversary of the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
Over the next two months, President Kennedy convinced a fearful public and a divided Senate to support the treaty. The Senate approved the treaty on September 23, 1963, by an 80-19 margin. Kennedy signed the ratified treaty on October 7, 1963.
- prohibited nuclear weapons tests or other nuclear explosions under water, in the atmosphere, or in outer space
- allowed underground nuclear tests as long as no radioactive debris falls outside the boundaries of the nation conducting the test
- pledged signatories to work towards complete disarmament, an end to the armaments race, and an end to the contamination of the environment by radioactive substances.
-from the JFK Library
Nixon and Khrushchev’s Kitchen Debates
On this day in 1959, Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev met for the opening of the American National Exhibition in Moscow.
As Nixon led Khrushchev through the model house they began a series of impromptu debates (mainly held in the model kitchen), on capitalism and communism. To debate such ideas both leaders used examples of household appliances to better stress their arguments. Nixon’s performance in the “Kitchen Debate” further raised his stature back in the United States.
In this photograph we have Nixon and Khrushchev debating in front of the now famous model kitchen. To the right of Nixon is future Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev. 7/24/59.
-from the Nixon Library
From bad to worse — JFK and Khrushchev at the Vienna Summit
In June 1961, President Kennedy and Chairman Khrushchev met in Vienna, Austria. The debacle of the Bay of Pigs had occurred that past spring and the construction of the Berlin Wall was underway.
Feelings on both sides were raw and the meetings between Kennedy and Khrushchev were grueling and mostly inconclusive: the Cold War continued. Its most fearsome moment, the Cuban Missile Crisis, was a little more than a year away.
Photo: President John F. Kennedy meets with Chairman Nikita Khrushchev at the U. S. Embassy residence, Vienna, Austria. June 3, 1961.
-from the JFK Library
In honor of Mother’s Day, here’s an entertaining letter from JFK’s mother, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, to President Kennedy.
In 1962, Rose Kennedy wrote to Soviet Premier Khrushchev asking for an autographed photo. Learning that his mother had reached out to the Soviet Premier, JFK wrote her this letter asking her to please check with him before she took it upon herself to correspond with heads of state as requests like hers are “subject to interpretations.” The timing is interesting, considering JFK wrote back to Rose almost immediately after the Cuban Missile Crisis.
In response to this letter, Rose Kennedy wrote back, saying: “I understand very well your letter, although I had not thought of it before. …When I ask for Castro’s autograph, I will let you know in advance!”
From the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Papers/JFK Library
This morning, our new exhibit opens to the public. “To the Brink: JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis” covers the 13 days when the world teetered on the brink of thermonuclear war.
Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev ordered a secret deployment of a nuclear strike force in Cuba, just 90 miles from the United States—with missiles that could reach most major U.S. cities in less than five minutes. President Kennedy stated that the missiles would not be tolerated, and insisted on their removal. Khrushchev refused.
Now, 50 years later, curators at the Kennedy Library and designers from the National Archives have created an exhibit where you can listen to secret real-time White House recordings from Kennedy’s meetings with his advisors during the 13 terrifying days in October 1962.
Do you remember the Cuban Missile Crisis?
Image: Medium Range Ballistic Missile Field Launch Site in San Cristobal, Cuba, taken October, 14, 1962. From the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Learn more about the JFK Library here: http://go.usa.gov/Y8f9
Khrushchev: “Force will be met by force. If the U.S. wants war, that’s its problem…It’s up to the U.S. to decide whether there will be war or peace.”
Kennedy: “I see it is going to be a very cold winter.”
-Remarks between Soviet Premier Khrushchev and President Kennedy after their first meeting in Vienna, June 4, 1961
Soviet Premier Khrushchev and President Kennedy meet in Vienna, June 4, 1961
May 7, 1960. Khrushchev announces that the U.S.S.R. has U2 pilot Gary Powers in their custody and he has confessed to being on a spy mission. The State Department says there was no authorization for such a flight. LBJ issues a statement saying both parties will support the President in this crisis.
Photo from RIA Novosti archive, image #35172, http://visualrian.ru/ru/site/gallery/#35172 6x6 film / 6х6 негатив via Wikimedia Commons.
The U-2 Mission and the Cold War
The U-2 spy plane was designed as a high altitude, single-pilot, single-engine aircraft. It was lightweight, but able to carry a variety of equipment such as multi-sensor cameras, and electro-optic, infrared and radar imagery machines.
Although the plane’s design broke ground in many ways, its main drawback was sluggish flight control due to its landing gear requirements. In case of an emergency ejection, the pilot seat was equipped with a hunting knife, a .22 caliber pistol, a parachute, and a survival pack. An explosive mechanism was installed that would blow up the plane after the pilot ejected.
On May 1, 1960, Captain Francis Gary Powers’ CIA mission was to perform secret aerial reconnaissance by flying over the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact territory. While in flight, a missile hit his plane and Powers was unable to follow the self-destruct protocols. The Soviet Union quickly recovered the wreckage and captured the pilot.
President Eisenhower learned of the missing U-2 plane on May 2. Believing that there was no possibility that Powers could survive a high-altitude missile strike, President Eisenhower gave the order to proceed with releasing a cover story.
-from the Eisenhower Library