303. National Security Study Memorandum 1281 2


  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense
  • The Director of Central Intelligence
  • The Director, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency


  • Review of Nuclear Test Ban Policy

The President has directed a review of United States policy with respect to underground nuclear testing.

This review should include separate analyses in the areas listed below. In each case an evaluation should be made of comprehensive test ban, threshold test ban, quota test ban and moratorium options.

Verification possibilities: taking into account estimated capabilities of present, currently planned and possible future seismic systems; history of past system performance versus expectations; probable capabilities of other national means alone and, as appropriate, the added capabilities provided by on-site inspection or on-site automatic seismic stations.
The effects on U.S. nuclear weapons development: including impact on meeting current and anticipated weapons needs and requirements; impact on nuclear weapons laboratories and possible conversion programs; and savings, if any, taking into account verification requirements.
Estimated effects on Soviet weapons development: including potential gains from clandestine testing.
Political and other factors: including value in controlling further proliferation of nuclear weapons, and effects on both U.S.-Soviet relations and U.S. relations with allied nuclear powers.
Impact on U.S. and Soviet Peaceful Nuclear Explosion programs: including domestic and international consequences of restricting or prohibiting such explosions; possible ways of accommodating Plowshare applications; and the possibilities of utilizing PNE’s for evasion of a test ban.

This study should be prepared under the direction of the Verification Panel which, for the purpose of this study, will include a representative of the Atomic Energy Commission.

The study should be ready for consideration by the NSC by August 15, 1971.

In view of the sensitivity of this memorandum, distribution should be restricted to those persons essential to the completion of the study.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 365, Subject Files, NSSMs (104–206). Top Secret. A copy was sent to the David, Seaborg, and Moorer.
  2. The President directed a review of U.S. policy with respect to underground nuclear testing and requested separate analyses for verification possibilities, effect on U.S. and Soviet nuclear development, and potentially influential political factors.