155. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense Brown to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • Underground Nuclear Weapons Test Program for the Second Half of FY 1977 (FULCRUM II) (U)

(U) I have reviewed and approve the draft Memorandum for the President on FULCRUM II.2 The “Recommendations” section of the memorandum should reflect that:

—The Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend specific approval of the detailed test program for the second half of FY 1977 (FULCRUM II) as proposed by the Administrator of ERDA.3

(SRD) If recommendations by the Secretary of State and the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency are forthcoming as now reflected in the draft memorandum, then I desire that the [Page 363] following comments be incorporated in the Memorandum to the President:

—The DoD believes that current TTBT test policy correctly reflects US obligations under the TTBT. Further, the policy provides an opportunity for further review, as warranted, of each test near the 150KT threshold prior to granting final detonation authority. The proposed FULCRUM II tests are in accord with present test policy. We do not concur that any tests be deferred on the basis of yet-undetermined policy revisions. Doing so would be equivalent to unilateral assumption of a lower threshold than agreed to by us or observed by the USSR.

—The proposed tests which ERDA has designated as possible SM–2 warhead candidates should not be deferred or deleted from FULCRUM II. As I indicated in my memorandum of April 6, 1977, which accompanied the NSDM 341 study, no decisions have yet been made with regard to warhead production nor to request ERDA to initiate engineering development of an SM–2 warhead. These issues are currently being addressed within the DoD. Deferral of these tests, one of which has significant warhead technology implications, would unnecessarily foreclose on future DoD warhead options (not just for SM–2) and will, in effect, prejudge the outcome of the SM–2 study.

—The insertable nuclear component (INC) test, KNIGHTHEAD, is designed to establish the technical feasibility of the INC concept. The test should not be deferred. While DoD has not requested engineering development of INC for a specific system, the concept remains of great interest for possible future warhead options. The INC concept has the potential to provide enhanced nuclear safety and warhead security with a reduction in operational costs.

(C) The ongoing CTB discussions make it appropriate to move our testing program along, avoiding delays. Our program should establish as many warhead options as possible should they be required for our national security in the future. This does not imply an accelerated test schedule, and I understand that the draft memorandum does not propose one.

Harold Brown
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–80–0017, Box 63, A–400.112 1977. Secret; Restricted Data.
  2. Not found.
  3. Not found.