On site inspection for nuclear test ban verirication

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P. D. Marschall


The problem of verifying compliance with a nuclear test ban treaty is mainly a technical one. However the problem of detecting, locating and identifying nuclear explosions has, since the late 1950s, been intimately involved with the political problems associated with negotiating a treaty. In fact there are few other areas in which policy, diplomacy and science have been so interwoven. This paper attempts to illustrate how technology can. be applied to solve some of the political problems which arise when considering the role of an On Site Inspection (OSI) to determine whether or not a nuclear explosion, in violation of a treaty, has occurred or not. It is hoped that the reader, with a scientific background, but with little or no experience of treaty negotiations, will gain an. insight as to how technical matters can interact with political requirements. The demands made on scientists to provide technical support for negotiating and rnonitoring compliance of a treaty have increased significanfly over the last 40 years. This is a period in which a number of major treaties have contained a significant technical component e.g. the Limited Test Ban Treaty (Threshold Treaty) and the Chemical Weapon Convention. This paper gives an indication of some of the political decisions which will have to be made and suggests some of the technical methods which are of value in the identification of a clandestine nuclear explosion.

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How to Cite
Marschall, P. D. (1994) “On site inspection for nuclear test ban verirication”, Annals of Geophysics, 37(3). doi: 10.4401/ag-4219.