105. Memorandum from Brown to McNamara, March 201
- Joint US–UK Technical Discussions on Nuclear Test Ban Questions
At the urgent request of Prime Minister MacMillan a group of British scientists led by Sir Solly Zuckerman met with U.S. scientists on Saturday and Sunday, March 17–18. The stated purpose of the meeting was to reach an agreed position on the scientific aspects of nuclear test ban control.
The meeting was a meandering affair touching on numerous scientific questions. It appeared to DOD representatives present, however, that the principal matter of interest to the British was the adequacy of national or unilateral seismic detection systems to monitor an underground test ban agreement. The simplest interpretation of British intent is that they are seeking scientific support for a proposal of a test ban agreement without international controls of the sort which the U.S. has always considered necessary.
In the course of the meeting no technical results were presented by either the U.K. or U.S. scientists to indicate that the problems of underground test detection had been solved.
A decision at this time to enter into a test ban agreement with only national systems for control would be a purely political decision, not warranted by any change of the technical situation.
I recommend that you oppose any move in this direction, in view of:
(a) the continuing need to prevent an imbalance in nuclear weapons development. Though underground testing is limiting, it does allow gains and could be hidden without inspection as a safeguard.
(b) the very bad precedent any treaty based on national systems would set for future disarmament agreements.
- Joint U.S.–U.K. technical discussions on nuclear test ban questions. Attached is a draft of the agreed conclusions of U.S–U.K. discussions. Secret. 4 pp. Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 66 A 3542, Atomic 000.01–400.112, 1962, Box 57.↩