On the prohibition of nuclear tests in three environments: between fear and doubt

On the prohibition of nuclear tests in three environments:
between fear and doubt

Samoylovskaya N.A.,

MGIMO University, Moscow, Russia, n.samoylovskaya@inno.mgimo.ru

Article received: 2023.05.19. Accepted: 2023.07.20

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2023.06.05

For citation:

Samoylovskaya N.A. On the prohibition of nuclear tests in three environments: between fear and doubt. – Polis. Political Studies. 2023. No. 6. P. 52-65. (In Russ.). https://doi.org/10.17976/jpps/2023.06.05. EDN: WVGYYD

The article was prepared with the financial support of MGIMO University within the framework of scientific project No. 2023-03-02.


The article examines the formation of the negotiation process between the USSR and the USA on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in the context of agreements on the prohibition of nuclear tests in three environments. The main approaches of Russia and the United States to the problem of nuclear disarmament were formulated in the 1950s, and the analysis of historical events allows us to answer the main research question: how, in conditions of an irreconcilable ideological struggle, distrust and competition, the two powers managed to take the first steps to find compromise solutions that led to the creation of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. The historical analysis allows us to create analogies with the current situation and look at the current crisis in the field of nuclear disarmament retrospectively. Special attention is paid in the article to 2nd track diplomacy and to the political activity of scientists connected with the development of atomic and hydrogen weapons, that, according to the author, allowed to formulate the concept of nuclear responsibility, which was an important component of the policy of nuclear deterrence. Drawing an analogy with the current situation, the author comes to the conclusion that the crisis in the field of nuclear disarmament is associated with a return to the policy of deterrence without its key component – nuclear responsibility, which allowed to balance the power policy and keep nuclear powers from plunging the world into an uncontrolled conflict.

Russia, USSR, USA, nuclear weapons, crisis, nuclear responsibility, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.


Gowing, M. (1986). Niels Bohr and nuclear weapons. In J. de Boer, E. Dal, & O. Ulfbeck (Ed.), The Lessons of Quantum Theory (pp. 343-354). Elsevier Science Publishers.

Holton, G. (1986). Niels Bohr and the integrity of science: integrity in science involves not merely the avoidance of dishonorable behavior but also some principles of action that are exemplified in the life and work of Niels Bohr. American Scientist, 74(3), 237-243. 

Adamsky, V.B., Smirnov, Yu.N., & Trutnev, Yu.A. (2002). Sverkhmoshchnye yadernye vzryvy v SShA i SSSR kak proyavlenie nauchno-tekhnicheskoi i gosudarstvennoi politiki v gody kholodnoi voiny. In Istoriya sovetskogo atomnogo proekta [Super-powerful nuclear explosions in the USA and the USSR as a manifestation of scientific, technical and state policy during the Cold war. In The History of the Soviet Atomic Project. Vol. 2 (pp. 163-184). St. Petersburg: RHGI.

Arbatov, A.G. (2021). The idea of academician A.D. Sakharov and strategic stability. Herald of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 91(12), 1104-1107. (In Russ.) https://doi.org/10.31857/S0869587321120033

Baranovsky, V.G., Buzhinsky, E.P., Zagorsky, A.V., Nikitin, A.I., & Oznobishchev, S.K. (2022). Avoiding nuclear war. Problems of escalation/de-escalation of armed conflicts when approaching the “nuclear threshold”. Polis. Political Studies, 6, 114-134. (In Russ.) https://doi.org/10.17976/jpps/2022.06.09.

Bogdanov, K. (2023). The escalation risks of multi-domain battles. World Eсonomy and International Relations, 67(4), 29-39. (In Russ.) https://doi.org/10.20542/0131-2227-2023-67-4-29-39.

Buzuev, V.M., & Pavlichenko, V.P. (1967). Uchenye v bor'be za mir i progress [Scientists in the struggle for peace and progress]. Moscow: Nauka. (In Russ.)

Chekov, A. (2023). Transformation of U.S. missile defense policy in the context of countering hypersonic weapons. World Eсonomy and International Relations, 67(4), 40-52. (In Russ.) https://doi.org/10.20542/0131-2227-2023-67-4-40-52.

Dobrynin, A.F. (1997). Sugubo doveritel'no. Posol v Vashingtone pri shesti prezidentakh SShA (1962-1986 gg.) [Strictly confidential. Ambassador to Washington under six US presidents (1962-1986)]. Moscow: Author. (In Russ.)

Rotblat, J. (1996). Pervye popytki unichtozheniya yadernogo oruzhiya [First attempts to destroy nuclear weapons]. In J. Rotblat, J. Steinberger, & B. Udgaonkar (Ed.), Mir bez yadernogo oruzhiya: naskol'ko on zhelatelen i osushchestvim? [A nuclear-weapon-free world: desirable? Feasible?] (pp. 17-32). Moscow: Mashinostrornie. In Russ.)

Ryzhov, Yu.A., & Lebedev, M.A. (2007). Anniversary of the Pugwash movement. Herald of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 77(10), 938-947. (In Russ.)

Sakharov, A.D. (1995). Nauchnye Trudy [Scientific works]. Moscow: Centercom. (In Russ.)

Shustov, V.V. (2002). Soveshchanie ekspertov po izucheniyu vozmozhnostei obnaruzheniya narushenii soglasheniya o priostanovke yadernykh ispytanii [A meeting of experts to study the possibilities of detecting violations of the agreement on the suspension of nuclear tests]. In Istoriya sovetskogo atomnogo proekta [The History of the Soviet Atomic Project. Vol. 2] (pp. 279-295). St. Petersburg: RHGI. (In Russ.)

Smirnov, Yu.N., & Timerbaev, R.M. (2002). K istorii zaklyucheniya moskovskogo dogovora 1963 goda o chastichnom zapreshchenii yadernykh ispytanii 2 [On the history of the Conclusion of the 1963 Moscow treaty on the partial prohibition of nuclear tests]. In Istoriya sovetskogo atomnogo proekta [The History of the Soviet Atomic Project. Vol. 2] (pp. 295-333). St. Petersburg: RHGI. (In Russ.)

Stefanovich, D.V. (2021). Strategic stability at 30+ years: stasis, evolution, or degradation? Journal of International Analytics,12(3),123-138. (In Russ.) https://doi.org/10.46272/2587-8476-2021-12-3-123-138.

Timerbayev, R.M. (1999). Rossiya i yadernoe nerasprostranenie. 1945-1968 [Russia and nuclear nonproliferation. 1945-1968]. Moscow: Nauka. (In Russ.)

Timerbayev, R.M. (2007). Rasskazy o bylom. Vospominaniya o peregovorakh po nerasprostraneniyu i razoruzheniyu i o mnogom drugom [Stories about the past. Memories of negotiations on nonproliferation and disarmament and much more]. Moscow: ROSSPEN. (In Russ.)

Torkunov, A.V. (2022). Karibskii krizis 60 let spustya [The Caribbean crisis 60 years later]. Moscow: MGIMO University. (In Russ.)

Yadernye ispytaniya SSSR [Nuclear tests of the USSR]. (1997). Sarov: RFNC – VNIIEF. (In Russ.)

Zelenkov, A.G. (1996). Ob issledovaniyakh uchenykh Instituta atomnoi energii im. I.V. Kurchatova po probleme radioaktivnogo zagryazneniya biosfery produktami yadernykh vzryvov (1952-1967) [About the research of scientists of the I.V. Kurchatov Institute of atomic energy on the problem of radioactive contamination of the biosphere by products of nuclear explosions (1952-1967)]. In istoriya atomnogo proekta [The History of the Atomic Project. Issue 7] (pp. 67-75). Moscow: Kurchatov Institute. (In Russ.) 

Content No. 6, 2023

See also:

Sorokin K.E.,
Nuclear Disarmament for Russia: Rush into the Uncertainty?. – Polis. Political Studies. 1992. No6

Arbatov A.G.,
Nuclear reloading and international security. – Polis. Political Studies. 2011. No3

Sorokin K.E.,
Nuclear Weapons in the Era of Geopolitical Multipolarity. – Polis. Political Studies. 1995. No4

Potapov V.Ya.,
Fifty years after: cuban missile crisis as viewed by academician Andrey Kokoshin. – Polis. Political Studies. 2013. No1

Yefimov N.N.,
Challenges of the 21st century. In new coordinates. – Polis. Political Studies. 2010. No1



   2024      2023      2022      2021   
   2020      2019      2018      2017      2016   
   2015      2014      2013      2012      2011   
   2010      2009      2008      2007      2006   
   2005      2004      2003      2002      2001   
   2000      1999      1998      1997      1996   
   1995      1994      1993      1992      1991