The politics of verification: Limiting the testing of nuclear weapons

Gregory E. Van Der Vink, Christopher E. Paine, "The politics of verification: Limiting the testing of nuclear weapons," Science & Global Security, 3, no. 3-4, (1993): 261-288.
From 1982 to 1990, the United States and the Soviet Union renegotiated verification arrangements for two unratified arms control agreements that had nevertheless been observed since 1977: the Threshold Test Ban Treaty and the Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty. The negotiations yielded new verification procedures, changed attitudes regarding Soviet compliance, and established useful precedents for further restrictions on nuclear testing. The negotiations also demonstrated how technical arguments can be misused to promote a particular political agenda--in this case, the continued testing of nuclear weapons. By misrepresenting the uncertainties in US monitoring procedures, and then falsely characterizing these uncertainties as a fatal flaw of seismic verification techniques, opponents of a nuclear test ban clouded the sensitive issue of verification enough to delay progress towards a complete ban on nuclear weapons testing. The primary obstacle to further restrictions on nuclear testing was not the feasibility of adequate verification, but rather the unwillingness of several US administrations to address the real question of whether the United States and other nuclear weapon states should, in the interest of global nuclear nonproliferation, end the development of new nuclear weapons designs that require confirmation by underground nuclear tests.

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