Attempts at détente

Why were there attempts to limit nuclear proliferation?

Nuclear proliferation is the increase in the number of nuclear weapons a country has, or the spread of nuclear capabilities to non-nuclear countries.

There was the fear that nuclear weaponry could fall into the hands of more dangerous governments. The more countries who had nuclear capability, the less the superpowers could control events. There was also the fear of nuclear accidents. A number of political agreements were made during the détente period.

Nuclear Test Ban Treaty 1963

Banned the testing of nuclear weapons on the ground and in the atmosphere.

Outer-Space Treaty 1967

Space was to remain weapon-free and could be explored freely by all countries.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty 1968

The only five nuclear countries were to be the USA, USSR, UK, China and France.

Seabed Treaty 1971

Banned the placement of nuclear weapons anywhere on the seabed.

SALT I 1972

Both superpowers put limits on the number of nuclear missiles that could be produced.

Helsinki Agreement 1975

The three ‘baskets’ of agreements were:

  • Both sides agreed to recognise the current borders of European countries.
  • Both sides agreed to respect human rights and freedoms.
  • Both sides agreed to help each other economically and technologically.

SALT II 1979

There was agreement over limiting the production of long-range missiles.