Arms Control and the UN Outer Space Treaty: Negotiating the Second Nuclear Weapon Free Zone, 1965-1968

Advisors: Matthew J. Connelly (Columbia), N. Piers Ludlow (LSE)


The United Nations 1967 Outer Space Treaty is the main agreement governing the actions of states in space, and prohibits the stationing of nuclear weapons beyond Earth. Although previous informal agreements existed, the purpose in pursuing a binding treaty and the relationship to wider Cold War arms control efforts remains largely unexplored. This dissertation refutes claims that the Outer Space Treaty served a propagandistic—rather than practical—purpose by examining the Johnson administration’s motivations and the details of negotiations to demonstrate that greater ambiguity was accepted as a temporary measure to ensure progress on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Source: The Huntsville Times, 22 June 1969, NASA History Office.