Two treaties put into effect over the past 20 years have set limits on the testing of nuclear weapons . The Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963, which has been signed by more than 120 nations prohibits nuclear explosions in the atmosphere ,oceans and the space, allowing only them underground .The Thresh hold Test Ban Treaty of 1976, a bilateral agreement between the US and the USSR, prohibits underground tests of nuclear weapons with a yield greater than 150 kilotons. In the present climate of widespread pressure for more effective control of nuclear arms the idea of a comprehensive ban on all nuclear testing is receiving renewed attention.Such an agreement would be an important measure.It might inhibit the development of new weapons by the major nuclear powers, and it might also help to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons technology to other countries. A halt to all testing was the original goal of the negotiations that led to the 1963 Limited Test Ban .New talks with the aim of achieving a total ban were suspended in 1980. In both cases the main impediment to a comprehensive treaty was the contention by the US and Britain that compliance with the treaty could not be verified because sufficiently small underground nuclear explosions could not be reliably detected and identified.In July the Reagan Administration announced that the test - ban negotiations with USSR, and Britain will not be resumed. Once again the primary reason given was a lack of confidence in methods of verifying compliance.
In 1963, the reliability of measures for the verification of a treaty banning explosions larger than about one kiloton may have been arguable, but it no longer is. We address this question as seismologists who have been concerned for many years with the detection of clandestine explosions by seismic methods and with means of distinguishing undercover explosions from earthquakes. We are certain that the the state of knowledge of seismology and the techniques for monitoring...
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