THE TEST 3AX AND NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION
A series oi questions were generated recently within the intelligence community on the subject of nuclear weapon development by Nth country signatories to the Test Bar. Treaty, in an effort to determine what practical effects, if any, the treaty would haveountry determined toeapon on the one hand, and observe the treaty's provisions on the other.
laboratories' answers to these questions seeaed to us to be of sufficient interest to warrant wider distribution. The questions were referred to the weapons laboratories of the Atomic Energy Commission.
Four general considerations relevant to the proliferation question were noted at the outset:
1. The fact that many fundamental principles have been establishedand their existence has become international knowledge reduces substantially the scientific and technological effort an Nth country must investeapons program.
The stare of the axt in certain technologies
critical in the development of nuclear weapons is now more than adequate to meet the needs of ar. elementary weapon program; the accomplishments of the last few years in electronics, hydrodynamics and nucleonics being particularly relevant. Jtfuch of the hard-won datanuclear cross sectionsare now readily available in handbook form.
3- Numerical modeling and machine computation
are now fundamental tools that any nation'^ scientific community can apply to weapon design problemsubstitute for considerable physical experimentation.
4, Physical and military weapons effects are publicly available in enough detail toarge class of full-scale atmospheric tests. Specific 'questions of geologic* geographic and other physical limitations on underground testing, costs oftesting, deficiencies in diagnostic datar and test requirementseapon of reasonable size and weight were examined with the following results:
Geologic or Geographic Limitations QQ Underground Testing There are almost certainly no geographic, geologic, or physical factors that would preclude underground testing, if
the testing nation is sufficiently determined in its objective to accept certain test hazards believed to be negligible but not so proven. Ground water contamination and the triggering of unstable seismic anomalies are two examplesriori considerations which are seemingly cismissable on the strength of current evidence. These can not be assumed major deterrentsesting program.
Costs of Underground Testing
The cost of underground testing is not likely toeterring factor in a. national decision to develop nuclear weapons, even though for many nations underground testing may
supply of fissionable material would almost certainly be limited, underground testingeans of critical material recovery in the event of one or more initial failures.
The number one consideration in excavating at minimum expense and difficulty for underground testing is probably the
Tie need for diifsostlc neasurersents is perhaps eveseterrent. Tiere ire no villi grounds icr'az assuaptior. that above ground experience is prerequisitenstruaer.tatIon. while sophisticatedequire cospilcated diagnostics, the card core requirements o* siople weaponsyield, neutron sulelplicatior. ratt. transit tlMcould ce measured fairly readilyo-pete: *tipor. development tea-. It car. not reasonably ie supposed thxt providing underground instrumentation adequateair.ir.i- these data would ie an important obstacle.
'.'sclassifiei reports and journal articles related to Projecthoe, announced for ^orldwice
seismic r arding purposes are probably adequate to afford sufficier. yield/depth-of-burial data toeginning nsure shot containment. onservative approach to depth- burial would tend to increase the initial excavati-.: or tunneling cost. Actual yield measurement could be accom- ished to an accuracy ofercent or better. TesRequirements'sable Weapon
st be expected that any nation interested in nuclearuld haveough cataloguing of U. S. types as to weight, external dimensions, and approximate yield. This inforaation can be obtained from photographs of U. S. missile systems and externally carriad bombs. The implosion principle is widely known as are the energy characteristics of suitable explosives and the critical masses of fissionable materials- onservative choice for initial weaponwould be an implosion system (for economy)ize deliverableight or medium bomberieldew tens of kilotons. Above ground non-nuclear experiments in conjunction with computer analysis can be used to obtain satisfactory data for the fissionable material available (using very small samples), to design implosion or gun assemblies, and to test initiation devices. With this background and close
attention co hardwart it is not unreasonable toigh probability o; success on th* first shot. ore. Perhaps two more shots, would probably be jud.edco- Desig-
Evac modest intelligence efforts could obviate many false starts in weapon design. On* illustrationechnical manual, for example, could prescribe initial direction for almost all phaseseapon development effort.
Barring intelligence acquisition of fairly complete production drawings aad specificationsuitable weapon, it seems mandatory that at least one test shot be conducted on any system likely to be designed and constructed. The possibility of annuclear nation emergingingle nuclear test seems very remote unless that nation will be satisfiedmall and expensive capability,uclear materials point at view.Original document.