304. Memorandum From the Director of the Program Analysis Staff, National Security Council (Smith), to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1 2


  • Clearance of Public Statements on Nuclear Test Ban Policy

Our nuclear test ban policy is currently under review in the NSSM 128 study. This subject is also getting increasing attention in the Congress, the Geneva Conference of the Committee on Disarmament and the UN General Assembly.

Our declaratory policy is that the U.S. continues to support an adequately verified comprehensive ban on the testing of nuclear weapons. “Adequate verification” repeatedly has been linked with a requirement for on-site inspection. The Soviets also publicly endorse a comprehensive test ban, but have maintained that national means are sufficient for verification.

The U.S. position on on-site inspections has been weakened by advances in seismic discrimination technology to the point that domestic and international pressures are mounting to challenge the necessity and efficacy of on-site inspections and supporting national means of verification of a comprehensive test ban. As the verification problem is perceived to recede in significance, pressures will increase for the U.S. to change its position and get on with negotiations of a test ban.

Therefore, it becomes important that official public statements and instructions to delegations concerning nuclear test ban policy avoid prejudicing the U.S. position until the NSSM 128 study is completed and appropriate policy decisions are made. The President directed that government agency testimony on seismic technology advances before the Joint Atomic Energy Committee be cleared at the White House. It is now timely and appropriate that we bring U.S. delegation statements and instructions concerning nuclear test ban policy at the UN and the forthcoming session of the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament under the same review.

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That you sign the attached memorandum to the Secretary of State and the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency directing that delegation statements and instructions concerning this subject be cleared at the White House (Tab A).

Marshall Wright concurs.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 229, Agency Files, Department of Defense, volume 14–Nov–Dec 1971. Confidential. Sent for action. At Tab A was the November 17 memorandum issued by Kissinger (Document 305).
  2. Smith recommended that the White House clear all U.S. delegation public statements and instructions involving nuclear test ban policy until the issuance of the NSSM 128 study on U.S. nuclear test ban policy.