227. Editorial Note

On February 21, 1968, ACDA Director Foster wrote a memorandum to Walt Rostow recommending disapproval of the Atomic Energy Commission’s request to execute the nuclear testing cratering experiment Buggy I, a row charge experiment of five simultaneous detonations. The initial AEC request for this experiment and others was submitted on June 2, 1967, under the Crosstie authorization plan. Regarding the Crosstie test program, see Document 197. Foster argued against the approval of Buggy I “on the ground that it involves a very substantial risk of causing radioactive debris to be present in Canada in amounts that will be detected, publicized, and used to support charges that we have deliberately violated the Limited Test Ban Treaty. Such charges would, among other consequences, have a decidedly adverse impact on our efforts to secure acceptance of a non-proliferation treaty.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Subject File, Nuclear Testing—Plowshare Events, Vol. 3, Box 30)

On February 22, Paul Nitze, Deputy Secretary of Defense, wrote a memorandum to Rostow in response to Rostow’s request for comments and advice on Buggy I. Nitzere commended going ahead with the experiment on the grounds that the behavior of the radioactive debris released from the firing of another Plowshare experiment, Cabriolet, on [Page 557] January 26 had followed an expected path within the U.S. boundary.(Ibid.)

In a February 29 entry to his Journal, Seaborg wrote that he received a letter that day from Rostow, which informed him of President Johnson’s approval to execute Buggy I. (Seaborg, Journal, Volume 16, page 165) This letter has not been found. Buggy I was fired at approximately 12 noon on March 12 at the Nevada Test Site; it created a crater measuring 300 by 900 feet and 80 feet deep. (Ibid., page 201)