282. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1 2
- Cape Keraudren Nuclear Excavation Project in Australia and the Limited Test Ban Treaty
In response to your earlier request, Dr. DuBridge and I have prepared for your consideration the attached Issues Paper (Tab A) on the relationship of the proposed Cape Keraudren nuclear excavation project to the Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT) and the various options by which we might proceed with the project. I think that it is clear from the attached paper that this is a very complex issue that will have to be dealt with carefully to avoid serious complications.
While it will not be possible to make a final judgment on the magnitude of this problem until the joint US-Australia technical feasibility study has been completed, I think that we should develop a better understanding of the options available to us as soon as possible. In view of the Senate’s interest in this problem, the Administration will probably have to lay the groundwork for its approach to the problem very soon. In this connection, Senator Fulbright has sent the attached letter (Tab B) to Secretary Rogers requesting a formal Administration statement on whether or not the SCHOONER event, a nuclear excavation shot in Nevada last December, violated the provisions of the LTBT. The answer to Senator Fulbright’s question will present problems since the amount of radioactive debris that left US territorial limits was considerably in excess of the maximum that had been predicted.
I therefore recommend that you direct that a formal study be prepared on the relationship of the Cape Keraudren project to the LTBT and the options by which we might proceed with the Australian project. If you approve, I will sign the attached NSSM (Tab C) setting up an ad hoc NSC group under the Secretary of State with appropriate representatives of other agencies, including the AEC, to prepare the study for NSC consideration.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 200, Agency Files, Nuclear Testing, Joint Nuclear Tests. Secret. The attachments at Tabs A and B are published. The NSSM at Tab C is Document 283. Written in hand at the top of the memorandum is, “copy sent Ellsworth as attachment to top memo,” a reference to the copy of the February 17 memorandum from Kissinger to Ellsworth to which Kissinger’s memorandum to the President is attached.↩
- Citing Senate interest in nuclear excavation, Kissinger proposed the preparation of an options paper on the relationship of the Australian excavation project to the Limited Test Ban Treaty. He then attached an issues paper, titled Cape Keraudren Nuclear Excavation Project in Australia and the Limited Test Ban Treaty, outlining possible objectives.↩