220. Memorandum From the Acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Rogers) to Secretary of State Vance 1


  • Nonproliferation Value of a Comprehensive Test

1. (S) The Joint Chiefs of Staff have carefully studied your memorandum of 10 July 1978,2 subject as above. While they agree that proliferation of nuclear weapons is a serious national security issue, they remain unpersuaded by the evidence you have presented on the potential nonproliferation benefits of a Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) of the type currently under discussion.

2. (S) The Joint Chiefs of Staff have been unable to establish to their satisfaction any causative relationship between a ban on nuclear testing and the cessation of the development of nuclear weapons by states without such weapon. They feel at this point that a nation’s decision to develop nuclear weapons is dependent upon perceptions of vital self-interest, not upon the existence of a CTB. Further, they believe the benefits stated in your memorandum would be uncertain and debatable in the case of a CTB of unlimited duration, and that significant nonproliferation benefits would not be derived from the type of CTB now being considered by the United States—one of 3- to 5-year duration with an announced option to resume testing.

3. (S) Clearly, there are divergent views concerning the nonproliferation benefits of a 3- to 5-year CTB followed by resumption of testing. The Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that an interagency paper [Page 544] weighing the nonproliferation impacts and the national security risks of a CTB should be developed for consideration by the National Security Council. The Secretary of Defense has been so advised.

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

Bernard W. Rogers
General, USA
Acting Chairman
Joint Chiefs of Staff
  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harold Brown Papers, Box 82, Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty #2. Secret. Copies were sent to Brown, Schlesinger, Brzezinski, and Warnke.
  2. See Document 211.