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172. Memorandum From the Acting Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (Keeny) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1

SUBJECT

  • ACDA Comments on FY 1978 Underground Test Program

In response to the NSC memorandum of September 29,2 we have reviewed the proposed FY 1978 underground test program (CRESSET) forwarded by ERDA’s September 16 letter to the President.3

The ERDA letter and attachments adequately describe the proposed tests and their relationship to particular weapon systems or other objectives. There is a need, however, to clarify the number of tests that the President is being asked to authorize. The proposed program would involve 32 tests (33 devices), but the funding for FY 1978 will provide for executing only about 25 tests.

ACDA can concur in an FY 1978 program of 25 tests, which is roughly the number conducted in FY 1976 and FY 1977. In view of the TTBT obligation to limit the number of underground tests “to a minimum”, ACDA would not favor an expansion beyond 25 tests unless there were compelling reasons to do so. I recommend, therefore, that the President’s authorization of CRESSET state explicitly that separate approval would be required if it is proposed that more than 25 tests actually be conducted during FY 1978.

In considering which of the 33 devices should be given priority, ACDA believes that in CRESSET emphasis should be given to completing development of warheads which are at an advanced stage of development and which fill a priority requirement. Lower priority should be given to embarking at this time on new lines of development which would require two or three years of testing to complete development. In a few months we should be in a much better position to judge the prospects of concluding a CTBT during FY 1978, and the new lines of development could be examined at that time. This point, inciden[Page 408]tally, illustrates the value of continuing to review the test program at six-month intervals as ACDA has recommended.

Spurgeon M. Keeny , Jr. Acting
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–80–0017, Box 63, A–400.112 1977. Secret. Copies were sent to Vance, Harold Brown, Lance, George Brown, and Turner.
  2. Not found.
  3. Not found.