The thawing of the Cold War: one of the pens used to sign the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty on 5 August 1963. According to contemporary news accounts, President Kennedy used 16 pens to sign copies of the Treaty; two are presently housed at the JFK Library in Boston.
After the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, both President Kennedy and Premier Kruschev realized how close both countries had come to the brink of nuclear war—and complete annhilation. As Kruschev put it, "The two most powerful nations had been squared off against each other, each with its finger on the button." JFK similarly remarked that "It is insane that two men, sitting on opposite sides of the world, should be able to decide to bring an end to civilization." Shortly thereafter Kennedy and Krushchev resumed a private dialogue on banning nuclear testing.
On 25 July 1963, both nations agreed to ban testing in the atmosphere, in space, and underwater. In a televised announcement the following day Kennedy proclaimed that a limited test ban was "safer by far for the United States than an unlimited nuclear arms race." The treaty was signed in Washington by President Kennedy and in Moscow on 5 August 1963 by Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, and British Foreign Secretary Lord Home. While the treaty prohibited nuclear weapons tests and explosions underwater, in the atmosphere and in space, it did allow for testing underground provided no radioactive debris fell outside the boundaries of the nation conducting the test.
The desk on which President Kennedy signed the Treaty sold in our rooms for $1.43 million (see The Estate of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, 23-26 April 1996, lot 358).