One of the most widely cited documents by the United Nations is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which nearly every nation of the world is a signatory. The goal: stop the production and rapid spread of fissile nuclear material to develop dangerous bombs and, more importantly, to prevent those already in existence from drifting into the wrong hands.

The results have been twofold; the treaty has prevented the spread of nukes and has helped to isolate international pariah states who have not signed on, including Iran and North Korea.

The treaty was ratified by the U.S. Senate after President Nixon expressed his approval on this day in 1969. RN’s directive to go forward with the NPT was recently declassified by the State Department and is a prime example of the diplomatic realpolitik that was the President’s strategy. In expressing the President’s position, Dr. Kissinger informs cabinet members of the President’s desire not to pressure other nations to sign. He knew, obviously, that many nations at the time were skeptical and directed his administration to proceed in a non-confrontational manner.

This trademark realism — in which the policies of the United States adapted in practicality to the state of world affairs — was prominent throughout RN’s presidency. And today the NPT remains one of the strongest internationally-binding documents.

Jimmy Byron is a Communications and Marketing Assistant at the Nixon Foundation. He is a second-year student at Chapman University.