162. Memorandum of Conversation, January 16, among Foster, Fedorenko, and Tsarapkin1

[Facsimile Page 1]


  • Nuclear Testing


  • USSR

    • Nikolai T. Fedorenko, Soviet Permanent Representative to the U.N.
    • S.K. Tsarapkin, Soviet Representative to ENDC
    • Y. Vorontsov, USSR Foreign Ministry
    • Vladimir N. Zherebtsov, Interpreter
  • US

    • William C. Foster, Director, ACDA
    • Charles C. Stelle, Deputy U.S. Representative, ENDC
    • James E. Goodby, ACDA/IR
    • Alexander Akalovsky, ACDA/IR

Referring to Mr. Foster’s comments at the previous meeting, Fedorenko stated that there were over 70 seismic stations in the USSR located with the aim of studying the seismicity of the Soviet Union. These stations participated in the international exchange of data. He then handed Mr. Foster a list of these permanent stations noting that there were 73. The Soviet Government, Fedorenko stated, agreed that data from these stations, or those of them designated for this purpose, would be sent to an international center in a uniform manner.

Mr. Foster said that this information would be helpful and that, in turn, he would be more specific on certain matters in which he knew the Soviet Union had an interest. He then proceeded to read the statement entitled, “Suggestions [Facsimile Page 2] for Automatic Recording Seismic Stations within the USA” and promised to give the Soviet side a copy of the statement the next day. Noting that there would be some symmetry as well as some asymmetry between the Soviet Union and the U.S. in respect to automatic seismic stations, Mr. Foster stated that the suggestions for automatic seismic stations within the USA were presented solely for the purpose of suggesting stations which might function satisfactorily within the USA. They were not meant to have any implication with respect to the key item in the negotiations—the number of on-site inspections—and had no implication as to the number or location of automatic seismic stations the USA would want to have in the USSR.

Fedorenko inquired how the US understood the quota of on-site inspections to be affected by the considerations relating to the location, number and operation of automatic seismic stations.

Mr. Foster replied that the data supplied by these stations would have several effects. One would be to provide additional information about seismic waves which would help reduce the number of unidentified events.

Mr. Foster recalled the demonstrated willingness of the US to reduce the requirements for on-site inspections as technology improved and stressed that there was a direct relationship between the degree of information we had about such things as travel time and the ability we had to reduce the number of unidentified events. He also emphasized that there was a relationship between the number of unidentified events and the size of the quota of inspections.

Fedorenko rejoined that the explanation he had just heard was general and wondered whether Mr. Foster could give specific values so that the problem could be understood more precisely. Mr. Foster [Typeset Page 420] doubted that there was an exact quantitative relationship between the various parameters he had mentioned and added that political judgments of course came into play.

Fedorenko then inquired whether the US had anything to say about automatic stations on Soviet territory.

Mr. Foster said that he did not have that information today but could say that three stations would not be enough. [Facsimile Page 3] He reiterated, however, that there would be a certain symmetry between the situation in the US and the situation in the Soviet Union.

Mr. Foster recalled that he had raised certain questions at the previous meeting which needed clarification as concerned on-site inspections. Although the Soviet Government was familiar with much of what he was about to say about US views on these matters, Mr. Foster did wish to repeat these views to give them emphasis and also to elicit Soviet thinking. Mr. Foster then described the US position on the selection of events for inspection, the criteria for selection of events, conduct of on-site inspections, the size of area eligible for inspection and the composition of teams. Mr. Foster undertook to provide the Soviet side with a paper containing the points he had just made.

Tsarapkin then recalled that Mr. Foster at the previous meeting had said that the points he had just covered had a bearing on the on-site inspection quota. He inquired what it would take to decrease the on-site inspection quota as regards these particular factors. Mr. Foster responded that since 1959 the Soviet Union had never accepted more than three on-site inspections while the US had halved its requirement for on-site inspections. He felt that it was time for some response from the Soviet Union with respect to its views on both on-site inspections and the matters which he had just been discussing. It would be futile to agree on an on-site inspection quota if such agreement could be blocked by other elements in the inspection procedures.

Mr. Foster stressed that the US wished to have a test ban agreement which would endure and this meant that the treaty would have to contribute to the confidence of the parties to it. The US hoped to work together with the Soviet Union in a mutual effort to stop tests and to turn down the arms race. At this point, Mr. Foster mentioned that some time in the next few days the US would undertake an underground nuclear test at the proving grounds in Nevada. He noted that this was part of the series begun last year and did not signify that a major new test series was beginning. This underground test was scheduled to take place some time ago and it was anticipated that some others would also take place in the coming months in the event a treaty was not signed. The fact of this test did not lessen the interest of the US in continuing to negotiate with all possible speed an effective test ban treaty.

[Facsimile Page 4] [Typeset Page 421]

Fedorenko replied that Mr. Foster’s reference to the US moves with respect to on-site inspections was a subjective opinion. There had been no change in the essence of the US position since the US still related the number of on-site inspections to unidentified seismic events. The fact that the previous quota of numbers suggested by the US had no foundation was evidenced by the fact that the US had decided to cut its suggested quota in two when it concluded that its original propositions were untenable.

Furthermore, the US failed to evaluate at its proper worth the important decision of principle of the Soviet Government, which had accepted the idea of on-site inspections, although its last position, the November 28, 1961 draft treaty, did not mention on-site inspection. There was no reason to say, therefore, that the Soviet Union had not changed its position.

Fedorenko then said that in the course of three meetings, the Soviet side had tried to talk about the specifics on the questions for which the meetings had been arranged. The US side had expressed its position only in general terms and it now appeared that this restrained attitude on the part of the US was because the US wished to continue nuclear weapons testing. How could this be reconciled with what these talks were supposed to do? The Soviet side did not think that the continuation of nuclear tests by the US showed a desire by the US to reach an agreement. Fedorenko wondered how sincere the US was in its desire to reach agreement. Were these negotiations to be used as a cover for the continuation of nuclear tests? The meetings had been going on for 3 days and no sign of forward movement had been seen. A proposal had been made to move the meetings to Washington. Fedorenko professed puzzlement as to what this meant and thought the announcement read by Mr. Foster was in contradiction to the understandings of the Soviet and US governments, with respect to the problem of a test ban.

Mr. Foster assured Fedorenko that the US was completely sincere in its efforts to reach a test ban and that these discussions were not a cover for a continuation of tests. The US had always said it would stop tests whenever an effective [Facsimile Page 5] agreement could be achieved and the US continued to adhere to this. In the absence of an acceptable agreement, the US would continue to test at intervals as was required by its national security. The information about the underground nuclear test by the US had been given to the Soviet side because the US wished the Soviet Government to know in advance that a test would be held. The US, he reiterated, was ready to stop all such tests any time an effective agreement could be reached.

Concerning the points he had previously made on questions relating to on-site inspections, Mr. Foster pointed out that the US had had no response on these proposals, either here or in Geneva. He thought [Typeset Page 422] the differences between the two sides had shrunk somewhat since the talks began, particularly on the question of the location of automatic seismic stations. However, three on-site inspections and three automatic seismic stations in Soviet territory would not be enough to build confidence in the treaty. Illustrating just one problem with the number three for on-site inspections, Mr. Foster observed that it would be necessary to keep one on-site inspection almost until the end of an annual period. This would leave only two on-site inspections for the rest of the year. The United States had taken cognizance of improvements in technology to reduce its on-site inspection requirements; the US accepted the fact that limitations could be placed on the exercise of on-site inspections to meet Soviet concerns about intelligence gathering and security areas. The US desired to move forward along the lines indicated by the previous exchange of communications between the two governments. Mr. Foster added that the US did appreciate the Soviet Union’s acceptance of on-site inspections.

Tsarapkin then intervened to repeat the comments made by Fedorenko previously about the US continuation of nuclear tests. He said that the present Soviet position must be compared with its November 28, 1961 position and in comparison with that time the Soviet Union had made a significant step forward. Two to three on-site inspections were enough and the Soviet Union would not let inspectors go to the Soviet Union 8 to 10 times per year. Tsarapkin then said that Soviet scientists had considered the question of where automatic seismic stations should be placed in US territory, taking into account the activities of seismic zones in the US and with the understanding that 3 such stations would be enough for the entire US. The locations proposed by the Soviet scientists were: one in the Augusta-Columbia area in South Carolina, one in the Santa Fe-Albuquerque area in New Mexico, and one in the Spokane-Richmond area in Washington. Tsarapkin stressed that 3 automatic stations in [Facsimile Page 6] each the US and the USSR would be completely sufficient as a supplement to national manned stations.

Mr. Foster said that the US side would examine these proposals and discuss them later with the Soviet side. He then noted that the two sides disagreed with respect to numbers. As to on-site inspections, two or three was not acceptable and if this was the Soviet ultimate position we should know it as soon as possible. With regard to automatic stations, two or three was also insufficient, though perhaps not to the same degree as in the case of inspections.

In the concluding discussions Mr. Foster stated that he would have to be in Washington on Thursday and could therefore not participate in a meeting on that day. He asked that the Soviet side let him know what the decision of the Soviet Government was with respect to a meeting in Washington and with respect to inclusion of the UK in the discussions.

[Typeset Page 423]

Fedorenko then said that both of these matters were under study. The Soviet side would be glad to meet in New York on Friday. Mr. Foster declined to set a time for the next meeting in the absence of a Soviet reply on the questions of locale and UK participation and it was agreed he would be in contact with Fedorenko Thursday to find out whether he had response on the two matters.

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1. Abastumani

2. Alma-Ata

3. Alushta

4. Andizhan

5. Apatity

6. Akhalkalaki

7. Ashkhabad

8. Baku

9. Bakuriani

10. Borzhomi

11. Vladivostok

12. Gharm

13. Gori

14. Goris

15. Grozny

16. Dzhergetal

17. Dushanbe

18. Dusheti

19. Erevan

20. Zugdidi

21. Irkutsk

22. Kabansk

23. Kizyl-Arvat

24. Kirovabad

25. Kishinev

26. Klyuchi

27. Krasnaya Polyana

28. Kulyab

29. Kurilsk

30. Kurmenty

31. Kyakhta

32. Leninakan

33. Lenkcran’

34. Lvov

35. Magadan

36. Makhachkala

37. Mirny

38. Moskva

39. Murgab

40. Namangan

41. Naryn

42. Nakhichevan’

43. Okha

44. Petropavlovsk

45. Przhevalsk

46. Pulkovo

47. Pyatigorsk

48. Rakhov

49. Samarkand

50. Sverolovsk

51. Severo-Kurilsk

52. Seimpalatinsk

53. Simferopol’

54. Sochi

55. Stepanavan

56. Talgar

57. Tashkent

58. Tbilisi

59. Tiksi

60. Uglegorsk

61. Uzhgorod

62. Fabrichnaya

63. Feodosiya

64. Fergana

65. Frunze

66. Kheis

67. Khorog

68. Chilik

69. Chimkent

70. Shemakha

71. Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk

72. Yakutsk

73. Yalta

[Facsimile Page 8] [Typeset Page 424]


In accordance with Mr. Foster’s suggestion at the meeting yesterday, I am forwarding to you, at his request, an outline of his remarks at that meeting dealing with the questions of automatic seismic stations and procedures for on-site inspection.

Alexander Akalovsky
[Facsimile Page 9]


The following outline of U.S. views on inspection procedures is set forth in the hope that the U.S.S.R. will also present its comments on this matter.

1. Selection of Events for Inspection

The U.S.-U.K. would select events certified, on the basis of agreed criteria, by the Executive Officer of the Control System as eligible for inspection in the U.S.S.R., and vice versa.

2. Criteria for Selection of Events

Executive Officer would certify events as located and unidentified in accordance with agreed objective criteria which would be essentially location criteria, although depth of focus, deep ocean, and aftershock-foreshock elements in these criteria would eliminate many events.

3. Conduct of on-site Inspections

If the quota has not been exhausted, the host government would not interpose objections to inspection. The team would be promptly dispatched to the location of the event to be inspected. The team would search for radioactive debris or other evidence of a nuclear explosion by means of lowflight aerial inspection and intensive ground inspection, including drilling if necessary. The duration of the inspection would depend on the conditions at the site and the operations required. Transit to the site could be subject to safeguards of the kind already described by both sides. Operations at the site would be monitored by observers from the host country and handled in accordance with any arrangements reached with regard to particularly sensitive areas from the standpoint of national security.

[Facsimile Page 10]

4. Size of Area Eligible for Inspection

In 1961, the U.S. proposed 200 or 500 square kilometers. That proposal called for 19 internationally manned superior multi-compo [Typeset Page 425] nent seismograph stations in the U.S.S.R. Technical progress has been made since 1961 but it remains true that the fewer the stations close to the epicenter the poorer will be the ability to locate the epicenter. Consequently, the number of automatic seismic stations and their location has a direct effect on the size of the area eligible for inspection. With stations on either side, and given the locations of existing seismograph stations, an area larger than 500 square kilometers would almost certainly be required, probably on the order of 700–800 square kilometers, or approximately 15 kilometers in radius.

5. Composition of Teams

The U.S. proposed in 1961 that for inspection in the U.S.S.R. 50% of the team would be composed of U.S.–UK nationals and the other 50% of nationals of countries not associated with either side, with the team to be headed by a U.S. or U.K. national. For inspections in the U.S., 50% of the team would be U.S.S.R. nationals and 50% nationals of countries not associated with either side, the leader of the team being a Soviet national.

We would also accept the formula of the August 27 U.S.–U.K. draft treaty; the Executive Officer selects team members on a broad international basis, but excluding host countries nationals.

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The following suggestions for automatic recording seismic stations within the U.S.A. are presented solely for the purpose of suggesting stations which might function satisfactorily within the U.S.A. They are not meant to have any implication with respect to the key item in the negotiations—the number of on-site inspections—and have no implication as the number or location of automatic seismic stations the U.S.A. may consider as necessary in the U.S.S.R.

It is assumed that with respect to automatic recording seismic stations there would be some symmetry as well as some asymmetry between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Specifically, one can expect the character of the equipment to be more or less the same, the provisions for data collection to be more or less the same and at least some approximate similarity in the utilization of the automatic recording stations although here there may well be differences depending upon the character of the manned seismic stations in each country which would affect the judgment as to possible symmetry or asymmetry. This paper, which is at least partly for illustrative purposes, considers possible stations for the U.S. and possible locations for automatic recording stations.


The assumption is that each of the automatic recording stations will contain within it a three-component short period seismometer, [Typeset Page 426] something at least comparable to the normal Benioff, and also a three-component long period seismometer. There will be provisions for timing and for calibration. A first assumption is that the data recorder would have data storage for two or three months although this should be a negotiable point since either a shorter storage period or a longer one may turn out to be more practical. In the United States it would seem reasonable to make the assumption that 110 volt AC electric power can be brought to any site for an automatic recording station.

The U.S. would be willing to discuss the noise levels for various parts of the United States and would be agreeable to construction of sites for recording stations that would be agreed upon.

[Facsimile Page 12]

To reduce noise levels it may be advantageous for some or all of the recording stations to have seismometers in deep holes. The extent to which these techniques become important and necessary depends largely on the number and placement of these automatic seismic stations. Stations in quieter locations might not need these techniques, while other would benefit from them.

Location of Recording Stations

The continental United States is relatively well covered either by quite superior Geneva-type seismic stations newly installed under Project Vela or by relatively good “standard stations” with fairly new equipment paid for by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey under its Standard Station Program. Consequently, it seems probable that the major use of automatic recording stations in the U.S. will be to validate the data coming from national manned stations. This, in turn, suggests that a most probable location for the automatic stations will be adjacent to some of the already existing U.S. manned stations. This permits taking advantage of the work which has already been done by U.S. scientific groups in locating low noise sites and gives direct validation of the data from these manned stations.

Assuming ten recording stations for the entire U.S., it seems reasonable that seven of them would be in the central part of the country, i.e., excluding Alaska. If so, the following tentative suggestions are made as to sites which might be of interest to the U.S.S.R. Delegation: Baker, Oregon; Tonto Forest, Arizona; Vernal, Utah; one of the better of the California Institute of Technology stations; McMinville, Tennessee; two stations in the East, for example, Palisades, New York; and Weston, Massachusetts.

In Alaska one obvious location would be at College, Alaska, to monitor the manned U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Station already there. Two additional locations might in this case be separate from a manned station and might be out on two of the Aleutian Islands to give more close in monitoring of the earthquakes there. If the U.S.S.R. [Typeset Page 427] showed an interest in this area, the U.S. has much information about seismic noise levels, availability of electric power, etc. A particularly important item here would be the accessibility of the station to rapid transportation to ensure that data could be picked up fairly quickly. In fact, since [Facsimile Page 13] courier-inspectors would be going to the automatic stations to pick up data at intervals as long as a couple of months, efficient transportation arrangements are of real importance.

It is quite probable that U.S.S.R. technical groups would like to have some automatic recording seismic stations in Mexico and Canada. If so, the U.S. should be willing to assist in obtaining sites and agreements for such stations and to help in efficient pick-up of the data if this would be helpful.

Specific Data to be Forwarded from U.S.A. Manned Seismic Stations on a Routine Basis to an International Commission

From some of the U.S. stations, for example the Geneva-type stations, it would seem quite reasonable to forward copies of all of the data taken by these stations. The data in this instance are in a variety of forms, including films, photo paper and magnetic tape and it should be quite straightforward to make arrangements to send copies of the records regularly, i.e., daily or every other day, or at other appropriate intervals. However, some of the stations within the U.S. are involved in experimental research programs and hence have a variety of specific seismic instruments, many of them varied in use from day to day. For these stations it would probably not be reasonable to ask them to send all data.

As two examples of the problem, the first concerns the station network operated in Southern California by Dr. Frank Press of the California Institute of Technology. The network involves 20 stations of some variability of noise level as well as variability in the degree to which the stations are maintained. The most reasonable procedure would seem to be to suggest that data be sent routinely from two of the stations, specifically, data from a standard three-component short period Benioff instrument and from a standard three-component long period instrument. Data of the same sort from the other stations of this network could then be preserved and made available on an “on call” basis whenever requested. Data from experimental seismometers in the same network would presumably not be involved in the data forwarding operations.

A second example concerns the Columbia University station operated under Professor Jack Oliver at Palisades, New York. Oliver has numerous seismometers of different sorts under study at this station. It would probably be [Facsimile Page 14] unreasonable to expect him to send data from all of them. Again, a reasonable suggestion would seem to be that [Typeset Page 428] a standard three-component short period seismometer and another standard three-component long period seismometer be designated as the two instruments from which data should be routinely forwarded to the International Center. In the process of preparing a specific list of proposed U.S. stations from which data would be forwarded to a Commission it would be necessary both to make definite arrangements with these stations and also to agree on what specific instruments were to be involved.

  1. Nuclear testing: on-site inspections. Two attachments provide a listing of Soviet fixed seismic stations and Foster’s comments on automatic seismic stations and procedures for on-site inspection. Secret. 14 pp. Department of State, Central Files, 700.5611/1–1663.