Experimental Nuclear Explosions and the Arms Race

  • Francesco Lenci
Part of the Studies in Disarmament and Conflicts book series (SDC)


It is highly significant that, ever since the first few years of experimental explosions of thermonuclear devices, the three nuclear powers of the time (the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union) have grappled with the problem of suspending their nuclear tests. This awareness of the importance that the discontinuance of programmes to develop military nuclear technology could have for international security and peace led, in the summer of 1958, to the convocation of a conference of experts of the Eastern and Western countries to tackle the technical questions linked with the detection of experimental nuclear explosions. The conclusions of those discussions were that it would be possible to detect and identify nuclear explosions in the atmosphere above the power of 1 kiloton (kt; 1 kt = 1000 tons of TNT), and to detect, with a reliability of approximately 90 per cent, underground nuclear tests of more than 5 kt. The monitoring network necessary for this purpose would have required a system of around 160 to 170 control stations installed on the ground and about ten appropriately-equipped ships.


Nuclear Weapon Nuclear Explosion Nuclear Test Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Weapon System 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    L. R. Sykes and D. M. Davis, ‘The Yields of Soviet Strategic Weapons’, Scientific American (April 1987) pp. 21–9; and A. Krass, ‘Recent Developments in Arms Control Verification Technology’, in Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, World Armaments and Disarmament: SIPRI Yearbook 1987 (Oxford, 1987) pp. 431–46.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    H. F. York, ‘U.S.-Soviet Negotiations and the Arms Race’, in W. F. Hanreider (ed.), Technology, Strategy and Arms Control (Boulder, Colorado, 1985) pp. 1–14.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    J. F. Evernden, C. B. Archambeau and E. Cranswick, ‘An Evaluation of Seismic Decoupling and Underground Nuclear Test Monitoring Using High Frequency Seismic Data’, Review of Geophysics, vol. xxiv (1986) pp. 143–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 5.
    J. A. Stein, ‘Nuclear Tests Mean New Weapons’, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (November 1986) pp. 8–11.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    T. B. Taylor, ‘Third-Generation Nuclear Weapons’, Scientific American (April 1987) pp. 30–9.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
  7. 8.
    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Energy and Technology Review (Washington, DC, 1987).Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    H. Bethe, N. Bradbury, R. Garwin, S. M. Keeny Jr, W. Panofsky, G. Rathjens, H. Scoville Jr and P. Warnke, in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (November 1985) p. 11.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Unione Scienzati per il Disarmo Convegno Internazionale 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesco Lenci

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations