249. Report Prepared in the Office of Science and Technology1
[Omitted here is Section I: an introductory paragraph about the Augmented Nuclear Test Program.]
II. General Impact and Scope of ATP
The Panel agrees that the ATP as proposed would make an important contribution to increased confidence in the reliability of the U.S. nuclear weapon stockpile under a CTB. The ATP cannot, however, eliminate all concerns about stockpile reliability especially under a protracted CTB. The most important contribution of the program with respect to improving CTB readiness is to make available redundant warheads for the important strategic systems.
Also of importance is the renewed effort to better understand weapon design questions. Such effort will provide the laboratories with a better data base with which to analyze and deal with future weapon problems. Even in the absence of a CTB, the ATP, particularly its increased support for weapons physics would be of value. The nuclear weapons program has suffered in the immediate past because of dwindling budgets and accelerated Phase III testing to meet current needs and a potential CTB deadline.
Of concern is the decrease in the number of experienced, innovative designers. The Panel is worried that the scope of the proposed program is so ambitious that it might overwhelm the laboratories. In particular, acceleration of testing as proposed in the ATP would require a sharp increase at the outset in the number of specialists in the program. It would surely require inducing some experienced personnel who have left the program in the recent past to return to it.
We note that the proposed ATP covers a five-year span, although only the first two years are explicitly discussed. That part of the program that contributes to the availability of tested warheads for U.S. strategic systems is planned to be finished by the end of fiscal year 1980. Thus, a CTB could be undertaken after 1980 without impacting on the availability of tested warheads for U.S. strategic systems. While the remaining portion of the program seems clearly very useful, it is harder to quantify its direct contribution to stockpile reliability and longevity or to other factors that bear on readiness for a CTB. The weapon physics tests could continue profitably for a very long time, indeed. However, [Page 615]since each such test provides some additional understanding of design physics even partial completion of the program will be useful.
[Omitted here are the specifics of the Augmented Nuclear Test Program.]
- Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 20, PRM/NSC–38. Secret. The report was attached to a May 16 covering memorandum from Brzezinski to Brown and Duncan.↩