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Compliance with Threshold Treaty

Question: On Soviet compliance with the Threshold Test Ban Treaty of 1974, there apparently is some disagreement within the Administration on whether there is evidence of Soviet violations. Dr. Roger Batzel, the Director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, stated a few weeks ago that "we have concluded that the Soviets appear to be observing a yield limit. Our best estimate of this yield limit is consistent with the threshold test ban treaty." Admiral Foley, would you agree with this assessment?

Answer: The assessment has to be kept in its proper context. Dr. Batzel was referring to yield estimates based on the interpretation of seismic signals alone. We have consistently noted very large uncertainties involved in such seismic estimates of Soviet test yields.


Such data may be consistent with compliance, but they are also consistent with very substantial noncompliance. This is a simple example, but it is a fair representation of what we actually see. We see tests that could be in compliance, but nevertheless appear based on the best estimate to be out of compliance. Dr. Batzel noted in his own testimony that we cannot rule out the possibility of some violations. Furthermore, Administration findings have been based on the totality of seismic and non-seismic evidence. Given the full weight of evidence, and given the very large uncertainties that we must still recognize, we support fully the Administration's finding of likely Threshold Test Ban Treaty violations on the part of the Soviet Union.

Question: Assistant Secretary of Defense Perle stated in an interview on March 24, 1986, that "I've looked carefully at the evidence and have concluded... that there is significant evidence the Soviets have violated the 150-kiloton threshold." Admiral Foley, have you seen any such evidence?

Answer: Yes, with the understanding that all our evidence is beset with the kinds of uncertainties that we have constantly pointed out. There have been several instances in which our best estimates of Soviet yields have exceeded the 150-kiloton limit. Because of the uncertainties in yield estimation we are not prepared to say positively that they actually were violations; it is for that reason that the President has used the term "likely violations" of the Threshold Test Ban Treaty.

Question: Mr. Perle seems to imply that the U.S. should consider breaking the 150-kiloton limit which both sides have been observing. What is your view on our continued compliance with the unratified treaty?

Answer: The Department of Energy's weapons development program is dictated by the military needs that have been spelled out by the Defense Department. At the present time we do not have identified military needs that would dictate tests above the 150 kiloton limit. Whether that will continue to be the case in the future, we do not know. Mr. Perle's comments would have to be addressed in that context.

Comprehensive Test Ban

Question: Earlier this month, a 23 member American panel including James R. Schlesinger, former Secretary of Defense and Director of CIA; General Brent Scowcroft, the national security advisor in the Ford Administration; and Warren Christopher, a former Deputy Secretary of State agreed that the U.S. and USSR should negotiate a comprehensive test ban and that this halt in testing would curb nuclear proliferation to other countries. Do you agree with this group? Would a mutual ban stop or slow down the nuclear arms race?

Answer: With respect to so-called "horizontal" proliferation, a U.S.-Soviet Comprehensive Test Ban under present conditions would not necessarily constitute a brake on the plans or intentions of potential nuclear states. Whether to "go nuclear" is a decision of highest national security importance for various states, and ultimately depends on a variety of underlying circumstances-regional tensions, desire for enhanced political influence or prestige, and concern about activities of neighbors--that would not be significantly changed by a Comprehensive Test Ban, Nor wouid a third part adherence to a comprehensive Test Ban prevent such a nation from designing a reliable first-generation weapon; as you know, the device dropped on Hiroshima had not been tested. Whether, in such circumstances, individual states would feel that their security required them to develop national nuclear capabilities is a question which cannot be answered in the abstract. It seems clear, however, that any decrease in credibility of the U.S. nuclear deterrent would lead other countries to carefully reassess their national security calculations. In that context their adoption of national options cannot be excluded.

Question: Please give your views on the problems with implementing an immediate mutual ban in all testing between the U.S. and USSR.

Answer: First, for the reasons that have been amply discussed, we would oppose such a ban at this time. We do not believe that at present such a ban would be in the security interests of the United States; so long as we continue to rely on a nuclear deterrent, we must continue to test nuclear weapons. When

the time comes for such a ban, implementation would be a subject for considerable negotiation. Historically, the most serious area of contention has been the Soviet reluctance to permit onsite inspection of questionable events. Recently, they have indicated in public statements that they are now less hostile to such inspection, but whether that would be reflected in actual negotiations, we do not know.


Question: What steps could the two countries agree on in order to provide adequate verification on a Comprehensive Test Ban?

Answer: It is not certain what steps will be required in detail to provide adequate verification on a comprehensive test ban prior to negotiations and discussions with the Soviet Union.

Question: William J. Hannon, the manager of seismic monitoring research at Lawrence Livermore, indicates that a network of 15 seismic stations placed in the Soviet Union would be able to detect - with 90 percent reliability - explosions of as little as 3 kilotons, even if they were muffled in a large cavity. Other seismologists have estimated that even smaller explosions could be reliably detected. Do you disagree with these experts?

Answer: We believe that Dr. Hannon's work included an additional 15 stations on the borders of the USSR and only referred to seismic magnitudes vice yields. We can neither agree nor disagree with this since we do not have the experience of either in-country stations or stations within regional distances DELETED

There are many technical issues as yet resolved which inhibit our capability to estimate detection capabilities.

Question: I understand that the Soviets have indicated a willingness to agree to on-site inspections and tamper-proof seismic monitoring devices - would this provide adequate verification?

Answer: Their willingness 18 the first important step in the process of establishing a system for effectively monitoring a comprehensive test ban in the USSR. There would have to be meaningful provisions for actually implementing such a system, however.

Question: Would agreement on something like our CORRTEX system at their test site combined with additional U.S. seismic monitors provide adequate verification.

Answer: Apparently you are speaking in the context of improved verification of the Threshold Test Ban Treaty. We believe that CORRTEX would considerably improve our ability to estimate the yields of Soviet tests and, for that reason, it would constitute an Important step toward provision of adequate and effective verification. We have proposed to the Soviets that we work

together toward the utilization of CORRTEX for that purpose, but have not received a favorable response. CORRTEX is a yield estimation device, and thus would be of no use in verification of a comprehensive test ban; you cannot very well measure the yield of a device that the other side claims does not exist.

Question: Assistant Secretary of Defense Perle also stated "...even if a test ban were verifiable, it's not in our interest to stop (testing)." Do you agree with this statement?

Answer: Yes. As long as our security and the security of our Allies relies on a credible and effective nuclear deterrent, nuclear testing will be required.

Other Testing Limitations

Question: Some nuclear testing analysts advocate lowering the 150 kiloton threshold to about 5 kilotons or lower. Could this type of proposal be verified adequately? Are there insurmountable problems with this proposal?

Answer: In the verification context, adequate is not well defined, but lowering the threshold to 5 kiloton would make seismic monitoring technically much more difficult.


difficult because of the frequency of occurrence of earthquakes at this seismic magnitude, and because of the signal to background noise ratios. · In addition, at the 5 kiloton level, the Soviets would have many more opportunities to test in dry alluvium or other absorptive sediments, or in decoupled cavities.

We are concerned with the movement toward a comprehensive test ban represented by a lowered threshold. As stated elsewhere, we do not believe a comprehensive test ban to be in the best interest of the U.S. as long as we need a nuclear deterrent. Accordingly, steps in that direction are seen as opposing our best interests.

Question: Another group, the Council on Foreign Relations, has proposed an annual quota on the number of tests on both sides, say 5 each, every year. Is this proposal a viable idea?

Answer: No. In the first place, the number of nuclear tests conducted by the United States should be determined by our national defense needs, not by some arbitrary limit. Such a low, arbitrary limit would impose even more severe prioritization than already exists in the test program and might result in serious neglect or delay in addressing critical nuclear weapons issues. In the second place, a limit on test numbers would be impossible to verify, e.g., we would not be able to detect and identify all low yield explosions. It would not be difficult for the Soviets to conduct several nuclear explosions simultaneously and in the same locale that would appear to be a single explosion.

Purpose of Testing

Question: Why is there a need to continue testing? Please list the major purposes or reasons for these tests.

Answer: Nuclear testing is required to ensure the continued credibility and effectiveness of our nuclear deterrent forces. Nuclear tests are conducted that have a variety of specific purposes but all with this basic goal in mind. Tests are conducted (1) to evaluate and maintain a confidence in the reliability of current stockpile weapons, (2) to develop and certify modern nuclear weapons to maintain a viable deterrent into the future, (3) to assess the vulnerability of United States military systems to nuclear weapon effects, (4) to maintain the skills and expertise of weapon scientists to deal with stockpile problems and last, but not least, (5) to explore promising new defensive technologies like directed energy weapons.

Question: How many DOE nuclear tests are proposed for FY 1986 and FY 1987?



Question: How many of the nuclear tests scheduled for FY 1986 and FY 1987 are tests whose primary purpose is stockpile confidence or reliability.



Question: Dr. Norris Bradbury, former Director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, and other experts recently stated in a letter to the House Foreign Affairs Committee that "continued testing 18 not necessary in order to insure the reliability of the nuclear weapons in our stockpile." Is testing absolutely necessary for reliability purposes? Why can't more routine surveillance activities provide adequate reliability? (disassembly and inspection of parts, detonation of the nonnuclear explosive triggers, and flash radiography)

Answer: Yes. Nuclear testing is indispensible to a credible and effective U.S. nuclear deterrent. We design our weapons for high reliability and employ virtually all relevant forms of testing to verify that reliability and assure there are no undiscovered problems. The surveillance activities you mention are conducted on a regular basis, but we have learned that they are not enough. They do not exercise the most important and least understood aspect of the weapon system namely, the operation of the nuclear device, itself. To leave out this key portion of our testing would greatly diminish confidence in our weapon systems and our deterrent's credibility.

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