The Atlanta Centennial meeting of the APS included a number of Forum sessions whose contents were related to ARMS CONTROL. Given the so-called demise of the "cold war", many people - in and out of government - seem to think that concern with this topic is now archaic. That this is not the case should be apparent to those who realize that British, Chinese, French, Russian, and US long range, nuclear-tipped, missiles are still pointing at each other, ready to be fired upon very short notice, that new participants in this dance of the scorpions, such as India and Pakistan, are upon the stage, and still others are in the wings. Readers of our July 1999 issue are aware of the strong pushes for a surge in offensive and defensive ballistic missile activities as well as of the possibility that such "offensive" missiles - short, intermediate, or long ranged - may carry "weapons of mass destruction" other than nuclear - biological and chemical. These weapons, and their means of delivery, seem to be becoming more widely available. Also, "conventional weapons" - as distinct from "weapons of mass destruction" - continue to be widely spread, taking large tolls both domestically and internationally (whatever the latter may mean in this time of fluid borders and dubious nationhood). Thus the world is still dangerous and the role of physicists in creating and ammeliorating these dangers sufficiently important to warrent the theme of this issue: "arms control and the physicist. All papers are derived from talks given at the Atlanta meeting. The articles by Panofsky and Wheelon discuss the past arms control activities of physicists whereas Fetter addresses the future. Ambassador Robinson summarizes the entire scope of verification. Zimmerman deals with physicists in government and Holton describes non-governmental activities. All of these efforts - past, present, and future, career-oriented and voluntary - are vital in protecting the possibility of a Bi-Centennial meeting of the APS. (Please note that figures referred to in the text, but not found there, will be found in the Web edition of this issue.)

Physics in Arms and Arms Control

W. K. H. Panofsky

Physicists have played a role in military matters for a very long time. Archimedes, one of the most productive contributors to early understanding of such diverse matters as density, buoyancy, and the laws of the lever agreed to serve his city of Syracuse when besieged by a Roman invading fleet. His mechanical military devices, including catapults that could throw stones weighing as much as half a ton, succeeded in repelling the Roman invading fleet. When direct attack by the Roman's was frustrated, they invaded the city from the rear. When a Roman soldier approached Archimedes doing "basic science" by drawing geometrical figures in the sand, he told the soldier not to "disturb his circles." The soldier did not respect the universality of science and slew Archimedes with his sword.

Variants of this story continue until today. Physicists took a leading role in World War II in the design of offensive and defensive tools of war. After the war some returned to academic pursuits while others continued military work. Physicists took the lead after World War II in advocating arms control and even elimination of classes of weapons. In India, physicists kept a nuclear weapons project alive from the first nuclear weapons tests in 1974 until the series of recent tests. Yet it is also physicists who are now participating in a dialogue across national boundaries in the efforts to limit the worldwide impact of these tests and are even using these tests in reviving a stronger impetus in the cause of arms control and disarmament.

The above examples illustrate a basic tension. Physicists are citizens of their countries and serve the national interests of their country in times of conflict. Yet there is such a thing as an international community of scientists who respect one another for their contributions to science. That respect may or may not lead to objective dialogue among scientists transcending political differences. The universality of the international community should be utilized in the interest of peace..

The history of the Manhattan Project is well known and so is the role of physicists in nuclear weapons development during the cold war.

One interesting instance of communication among scientists during actual warfare is worth mentioning. I was involved at Los Alamos developing a device to measure the yield from a nuclear explosion with a condenser microphone quantitatively measuring the shockwave. This information was propagated by telemetry to an airplane accompanying the primary craft dropping the weapons. This telemetry device, dropped by parachute, was powered by a large battery box. Luis Alvarez, working for the Manhattan Project, taped a letter to this box addressed to Sagane, a prominent Japanese physicist who had worked at Berkeley before the war. This letter explained the nuclear nature of the weapon. Sagane indeed received this letter immediately after the Hiroshima event and delivered it to the Japanese high command. Presumably it influenced to an unknown extent the Japanese decision to surrender. This event documents an extreme instance of scientific communication between physicists of adversary nations during a period of intense conflict.

Following the use of nuclear weapons by the U.S. against Japan and the nuclear explosive tests by the Soviets, the nuclear weapons competition between the United States and the Soviets commenced, leading to worldwide deployment of over 60,000 nuclear weapons. In parallel with this frightening development initiatives between American and Soviet physicists merged, designed to bring limits and even reversal into this process. The Baruch Plan was the first step. This attempt, initiated by J. Robert Oppenheimer, was to bring the new atomic energy under international control. This plan, not unexpectedly, was rejected by the Soviets who were pursuing their own nuclear weapons and who believed that the Baruch plan would preserve the American monopoly in nuclear weapons.

A consecutive recital of the efforts to bring the nuclear arms race under control is difficult because a number of developments proceeded in parallel. Therefore the account given here is necessarily very incomplete. Let me start by reciting two key events: In 1945 Bertrand Russell appealed in a speech to the British House of Lords for nuclear disarmament and this was followed in 1955 by the Einstein-Russell Manifesto. An increased role of science in government followed, triggered by the launch of Sputnik by the Soviets, commencing with the creation of the President's Science Advisory Committee (PSAC) late in 1957. Recognition of the need for arms control to stem the nuclear arms race increased on many fronts: within government itself, within the scientific community, but also within the public. In addition, scientists gained increased prominence in the public eye through their achievements during the war and through many spectacular discoveries. This in turn made it easier for scientists addressing questions of peace and war to reach the public ear.

Three major initiatives outside the government took place in the1950's: one is the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs(COSWA), the second was the inter-academy initiative known as the Soviet-American Disarmament Study (SADS), and the third was the establishment in 1945 of the Federation of Atomic Scientists, later to become the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). The Pugwash Movement held a series of about 200 meetings among scientists of diverse nationalities. During each meeting, agreement on critical issues in arms control is sought and these findings are issued in statements, manifestos, or proclamations. SADS, whose beginnings and modifications I will outline, also continues until today through its successor activities. SADS started a series of bilateral meetings between Soviet and American scientists where critical issues were discussed in a problem-solving spirit. Agenda are negotiated before each meeting; papers are given during the meeting followed by discussions. In contrast to Pugwash no attempt is made to reach a documented consensus or to issue external pronouncements; rather each side makes a record of the meeting and briefs their governmental authorities. Whatever consensus on new initiatives is reached during the meeting is conveyed to each government. FAS conducts both public awareness activities and has undertaken several important international bridge-building initiatives as well.

Soon after its establishment, PSAC panels examined technical issues affecting verification of a potential ban on nuclear weapons tests. Subsequently the Soviet and American Administrations agreed to convene a Conference of Experts in 1958 which was to identify the tools required for verifying a treaty on the cessation of nuclear tests. This Conference was followed by two Technical Working Groups, convened to examine new data on seismic detection and on verifying detection of nuclear explosions in space, respectively; a third group to jointly improve seismic detection capabilities followed. These technical conferences proceeded under the idealistic assumption that scientists, convened as governmental delegations from the two sides, could reach objective "agreement" on technical questions which could then be used in follow-on negotiations on the political level.

While these meetings resolved specific scientific and technical issues, they failed in unlinking scientific and political negotiations. The Soviets never shared the view that this was possible or desirable. Neither side ever clearly faced the issue whether the negotiations were to result in an immutable basis for future discussions or whether the information generated could be continuously updated as scientific developments indicated. Whenever disagreements occurred on the scientific level, they were almost always in one direction: the Soviet side felt that verification was easier than the American side maintained. The sense of this disagreement of course tracked the national political interests of the two sides: the Soviets wanted less intrusive verification and the Americans wanted more. Because of the slowness of progress in nuclear arms control on the official level, initiatives arose for non-governmental action. The Pugwash meetings were initiated by the financier Cyrus Eaton, named after Eaton's Canadian estate where the organizing committee met in 1957. On the scientific side the effort was initially spearheaded by Joseph Rotblat, the British participant in the Manhattan Project who left the Project during its early phases. The first bilateral meeting was held in Moscow in late 1960 and the list of American participants contained some of the top science advisors within the American government. Scientific and political participants on the Soviet side were headed by Topchief, the Vice President of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. Their second meeting was held at Stowe, Vermont in 1961 and again many prominent Americans participated.

While the early Pugwash contributions were extremely productive in producing candid dialogue, they were occasionally stormy because of the asymmetry between the Soviet and American groups. The Soviets largely although not entirely functioned as a delegation reflecting official positions while the Americans expressed more diversified views. Yet as the Pugwash meetings evolved the unanimity on the Soviet side began to crack ,with increasing diversity of views expressed. Today the Pugwash meetings

have become highly multilateral and diverse.

Considering both the constructive contributions from Pugwash, but also the threat that Pugwash appeared to some to be corrupted by Soviet propaganda, efforts commenced to establish a much smaller group of scientists for discussions between the Soviet Union and the U.S. This group was called the Study Group on Arms Control and Disarmament (SADS) with the original initiative taken late in December 1960 by the applied mathematician, Donald Brennan.

The problem was finding an institutional home and sources of financial support for SADS on the U.S. side; requests for financing were addressed in mid-1961 to the Ford Foundation. The Ford Foundation finally approved the talks in April 1963 after Paul Doty replaced Brennan. At the end of 1961 the Soviets "officially accepted" the proposed series of meetings. Topchief died in 1962 and was replaced by Academician Millionchikov, a much more independent and out-spoken scientist than Topchief. Therefore the meetings from the very beginning reflected more independence on both sides than had been anticipated.\

The first meeting of SADS took place in June 1964 under sponsorship on the U.S. side of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and on the Soviet side by their Academy of Sciences. Initially setting agenda proved difficult. The Soviets wished to link discussions of nuclear arms control to general and complete disarmament (GCD) which was then the official Soviet position. Also, the Soviets wanted a more extensive participation of what they called "Social Scientists," generally meaning ideologists reflecting official doctrine. Yet despite these rocky beginnings, the SADS discussions were extremely valuable.

The most important single achievement of SADS was the introduction to the Soviets of the concept that defensive measures, such as antiballistic defense (ABM) could be destructive and escalatory. This idea, introduced first by Ruina during a Pugwash meeting in 1964, was initially strongly resisted by the Soviets with the usual reaction "How can a purely defensive measure results in offensive escalation?" Their position was accentuated by General Talenski who was heavily involved in managing the initial ABM deployments around Moscow. However Millionchikov fully comprehended that in the Soviet-American strategic nuclear weapons stand-off, ballistic defenses would in fact be escalatory; understanding of the nature of an offense rather than a defense dominated balance spread in the Soviet intellectual community.

Since the U.S. participants had access to high levels of U.S. government, the anti-ABM ideas as developed penetrated to the highest level. A critical event was the meeting at Glassboro, New Jersey, between President Johnson and Premier Kosygin in June 1967 which defined the path for a future strategic arms control dialogue between the two countries not restricted to either offensive or defensive limitations . A SADS meeting at the end of December 1967 in Moscow was particularly productive and the output of that meeting was briefed in person to U.S. Secretary of Defense McNamara and later to Clark Clifford in 1968. On the Soviet side Millionchikov and the well known physicist Artsimovich, personally briefed Premier Kosygin. All this dialogue can be credited at least partially of having led to the official SALT/ABM negotiations which led to the ABM treaty, signed initially in 1972, and now a cornerstone of the stable strategic relationship between the U.S. and Russia.

SADS was dissolved in 1975 after Millionchikov died in 1973 and the steam effectively went out of the non-governmental dialogue through transfer to the official level. Yet the conviction persisted that scientific discussions following the SADS pattern should continue between U.S. and Soviet scientists. In early 1980 the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) agreed to establish a standing Committee on International Security and Arms Control (CISAC) chaired by Marvin Goldberger, then president of Cal Tech. It was agreed that a continued U.S.-Soviet dialogue should be the highest priority objective of CISAC. This goal broadened over the years with the chairmanship shifting to myself and then to John Holdren. Formal terms of reference to CISAC were established in April 1980 and included the execution of studies germane to scientific and technical issues in international security and arms control. The NAS appointed Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr., the previous Deputy Director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency under President Carter, as Resident Scholar. He led the organizational and supporting activities for the Committee and contributed to its intellectual substance.

The first meeting between CISAC and a prominent Soviet delegation held in Moscow in the Spring of 1981 and many ideas were introduced. In particular the basic concept of a stable relationship between the U.S. and Soviet Union enhanced by survivable strategic forces, absence of ballistic missile defenses, qualitative and quantitative constraints on forces of both sides, and a cut-off of production of fissionable material for nuclear weapons were introduced into the dialogue. These discussions continue approximately annually until today. When discussing problems of biological warfare, the American side sought explanation for the well known Sverdlovsk incident in 1979 where a now well-documented release of anthrax spores resulted in the death of about 75 inhabitants of that city. It was impressive to the Soviets that this issue was raised by American scientists who were friends of arms control and peaceful relations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. This release has now been fully documented through the work of Matthew Meselson and associates in 1992 as originating from a military installation.

The CISAC discussions were complemented by the establishment of similar groups in the United Kingdom, France and Italy, all on the levels of the principal Academies of these countries. Bilateral discussions with a special military-scientific group in China were organized, with meetings held at least once a year. Since a large multiplicity of bilateral discussions became burdensome, a multilateral forum among national academies was initiated under the initiative of Edoardo Amaldi of Italy. These multilateral inter-academy conferences meet annually, named the Amaldi Conferences after Amaldi's death. Also the Pontifical Academy convened a gathering of representatives of academies from around the world in September of 1982, resulting in a declaration on prevention of nuclear war which had significant impact.

There are now a large number of fora in which arms control issues can be discussed among scientists and military experts both multilaterally and bilaterally. Study groups have been established at many universities such as at Princeton, University of Maryland, MIT, Harvard, Brown University, Stanford University, the University of California, to name but a few. Most of these groups have conducted successful and productive meetings with foreign scientists sharing their concern about the arms build-up. The totality of discussions and publications resulting from these groups remains impressive and constructive.

Today arms control is at the crossroads. On the one hand we have had several decades of successful arms control initiatives and the scientific community can be justly proud of having played a major role both within and separate from the government. Yet today arms control is fighting apathy, both within the public and governments, with other issues preempting attention. Arms control progress is immobilized both in Russia and the U.S. through internal political conflicts. While discussions on the academic level continue to be frequent and productive, they have not had sufficient impact to convert the official apathy into action. Yet the world cannot afford to wait for some catastrophic event to shake that apathy. Perhaps the resumption of nuclear tests by India and Pakistan will renew the drive for nuclear arms control. The time has come to introduce an examination of the conditions and potential steps leading to prohibition of nuclear weapons into the international agenda.

Physicists must continue to play a major role. This function and its significance has been stated, perhaps over-stated, by Freeman Dyson in 1997 with his remark: "The most useful contribution that scientists can make to the abolition of war has nothing to do with technology. The international community of scientists may help to abolish war by setting an example to the world of practical cooperation extending across barriers of nationality, language, and culture."


Dr. Wolfgang K. H. Panofsky, Director Emeritus

Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, Stanford University

P.O. Box 4349, Stanford, California 94309

Phone: (650) 926-3988, Fax: (650) 926-2395

Strategic Reconnaissance Albert D. Wheelon

Background A national policy to collect strategic intelligence during peacetime by overhead reconnaissance was forged soon after the second world war. It was initiated by President Truman and significantly enlarged by President Eisenhower. A series of post war surprises compelled them both to take this unusual step. A freely elected government in Czechoslovakia fell in 1948. Berlin was sealed off that same year and its population was being fed by airlift. The next year China became a communist state and Russia exploded its first nuclear weapon - well ahead of Western expectations. In 1950, full-scale warfare erupted on the Korean peninsula. Both men remembered the devastating surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. The development of nuclear armed long range bombers and missiles gave urgency to their concern about the possibility of a surprise attack.

With the support of a Republican congress, President Truman reorganized the defense establishment in 1947. New legislation established the Air Force as a separate military service and created the Central Intelligence Agency. In partnership, these two organizations would implement the program of strategic reconnaissance.

To fill the massive gaps in our understanding of activities behind the Iron Curtain, Truman authorized flights over the USSR by Air Force and Navy reconnaissance aircraft beginning in 1950. In addition, a substantial number of peripheral collection missions were run. Military units suffered painful losses; approximately one hundred airmen were killed or captured in these activities. When he became president in January 1953, Eisenhower continued these military missions but became increasingly concerned that the use of dual capable military aircraft could trigger a dangerous response. His concern was crystallized when SAC sent three RB-47 aircraft over the Kola Peninsula on April 24, 1954, resulting in prolonged aerial combat. It is important to recall that the reconnaissance version of the B 47 looked no different than the bomber version which carried nuclear weapons. Eisenhower resolved to place future reconnaissance activity under civilian control reporting directly to him.

U 2 Program During his years as president of Columbia University, Dwight Eisenhower developed a strong friendship with James Killian of MIT. In March 1954, he asked Killian to gather the country's best scientists and engineers to see what could be done to prevent a surprise nuclear attack. Much of their attention focused on strategic intelligence because they believed that it was the most highly leveraged component of national security. They also judged that it was the weakest link. A working party on strategic intelligence was formed under Edwin Land to examine this problem. It included Edward Purcell and James Baker of Harvard, John Tukey of Bell Telephone Laboratories and Princeton, Allen Donovan of Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory and Joseph Kennedy of Polaroid. This group would play an unusually influential role for the next twenty years.

Land's group became aware of a Lockheed proposal to build a high flying airplane by joining an F 104 fuselage to glider wings. This concept had been rejected by General Curtis LeMay because it would not be combat capable. The Land group were also aware of new developments in optics and film. They recognized that these technologies in combination with the aircraft would provide an extraordinary peacetime asset if there was the political will to use it over the USSR. Killian and Land urged the president to proceed and Eisenhower agreed in November 1954.

Eisenhower was determined to keep tight civilian control of the U 2 and insisted that it be developed in utmost secrecy. The task was assigned to Richard Bissell at CIA, who was strongly supported by the Air Force in a remarkable partnership that endures to this day. The U 2 was to fly at 75,000 feet and would have a range of 3700 miles. It would be quite fragile and have a top speed of only 400 knots. Its only purpose was to take pictures and its payload of 750 pounds was devoted exclusively to that mission. Astronomer Jim Baker designed the lens system for the cameras. Eastman Kodak produced high resolution nine inch film in a special facility funded by CIA. The combination delivered a resolution of 2.5 feet over swath widths of almost 100 miles beneath the plane.

The remarkable feature of the U 2 program is that the first model flew just eight months after the program was approved. One year later it was fully tested and ready for deployment. CIA was responsible for planning the missions and obtaining written approval for each overflight. The first mission flew directly over Moscow on July 4, 1956. Twenty-three additional missions were flown in the next four years using bases in Europe and the Far East. The photographic coverage obtained from these flights refuted the alarmist claim that the USSR was building large numbers of long range bombers. These flights gave early warning however, of vigorous efforts to build long range missiles.   

The U 2 program ended suddenly on May 1,1960 when Gary Power was shot down over Sverdolask. In response, Eisenhower made a firm commitment that the United States would not again fly over the USSR with manned reconnaissance aircraft. He kept that promise and so did each succeeding American president.  

But that was not the end of the program. U 2 coverage of China began in 1960 and continued for the next decade using bases in Taiwan, Thailand and India. Four U 2s were shot down over China during this period. The CIA also maintained regular U 2 coverage of Cuba. The flight of October 14, 1962 revealed Soviet nuclear missiles, giving President Kennedy sufficient lead time to diffuse this potentially dangerous situation. The CIA aircraft were later turned over to the Air Force and have been used regularly around the world ever since. The initial expectation was that U 2 missions could be flown over the USSR for no more than two years. Two programs were started in 1958 to replace this capability and they too were placed under Richard Bissell at CIA.  

OXCART Eisenhower approved design studies for a follow-on manned aircraft program in late 1957. A concept evolved over the next two years to build an airplane that would fly 2000 miles per hour at an attitude of 90,000 feet. It was called Oxcart - a true oxymoron. The Land group played a catalytic role in these studies and many meetings of CIA with its contractors were held in Land's Cambridge office

At Mach 3.2 the surface temperature would reach 550 degrees Fahrenheit. This meant that the airplane would have to be built from titanium and would be the first program to do so. Lockheed was given a go ahead in September 1959 to develop the plane and build twelve copies. The first model was shipped to CIA's secret test site in Nevada early in 1962 and made its maiden flight that April. The flight test program was a difficult and heartbreaking job marked by technical problems and several fatal crashes.

As with the U 2, the camera system was the heart of the program. The optical window was a particular challenge because it experienced temperature gradients from 150 to 550 degrees. Perkin-Elmer built the primary camera with a focal length of 18 inches. This produced a ground resolution of one foot over a swath 70 miles wide.

   The development phase of Oxcart was completed in late 1965. Operational bases had been established overseas and two aircraft were deployed to Okinawa in early 1966. They flew 22 missions over North Vietnam and North Korea in the next two years. The CIA aircraft were turned over to the Air Force in 1968 who operated them as the SR - 71. This remarkable aircraft was used comparatively little for two reasons. First, Oxcart was designed to fly over the USSR and Eisenhower had subsequently promised not to do so. A stronger reason was that a far more capable reconnaissance system had been developed by the CIA/Air Force team.  

CORONA American development of ballistic missiles provided a practical means to place reconnaissance satellites in earth orbit. Following Sputnik, Eisenhower turned to Killian to develop a plan for such a capability. He recommended that we pursue a system that would bring exposed film back to earth from orbiting reconnaissance satellites. Their goal was to build a system in less than a year that could provide ground resolutions of better than 25 feet. This was an astonishing and ambitious goal. The single purpose of this program would be to gather broad based information on the USSR in peacetime that could prevent nuclear war. The president approved the Corona program eight weeks later and the task was assigned to Bissell at CIA. It was Land who informed Bissell of the decision, thereby indicating the extraordinary influence that his scientific group wielded.  

The Thor rocket was chosen because it had been proven already. The Agena vehicle then in development was chosen to do two jobs: (1) complete the rocket boost into earth orbit, and once there, (2) act as a stable platform for the cameras. The polar orbit would lie in a sun-oriented plane so that every ninety minutes the satellite would fly over a new part of Russia illuminated by noonday sun. The camera design was crucial and here the Land group played an important role. After much debate, a panoramic camera with a 24 inch focal length was chosen. Eastman Kodak provided 70 mm film which gave 280 line pairs per mm at high contrast. With this combination the ground resolution improved rapidly to 6 feet. There was initial concern that atmospheric scintillation - like that experienced by ground-based telescopes - would limit camera performance. Careful study showed that this should not be a factor for Corona.

   The exposed film was spooled up in a reentry capsule which was reoriented and separated from the Agena at end of mission. A small solid rocket motor was then fired to impart a braking velocity of 1300 feet per second which ensured atmospheric reentry. The ablating heat shield encountered temperatures of 4000 degrees as it passed through the upper atmosphere. If everything worked properly, the capsule would drop into a recovery area near Hawaii. A parachute deployed at 50,000 feet and was then caught by slow flying C - 119 aircraft that towed aerial lariats.   The first successful Corona flight occurred in August 1960 - the same day that Gary Powers was being sentenced in Moscow. That mission returned 20 pounds of film which contained more images that all of the U 2 flights combined. Corona flew 145 times during the next 12 years - approximately every 45 days. It produced 800,000 images, all of which are now declassified by Executive Order. The last spacecraft with its cameras and reentry vehicle was saved for posterity and is now on display at the Air and Space Museum in Washington.

Impact on National Security   One cannot overestimate the effect that Corona had on national security - and indeed on international stability. National Intelligence Estimates (NIE) are the basis for American defense planing and force structure decisions. Those estimates were surrounded by uncertainty and angry debate prior to Corona. With very little hard data, it was possible for Hawks to argue that the Soviet threat was enormous while Doves could maintain that it was trivial. That situation changed rapidly when satellite photography began to arrive. Now there could be no debate about the number of Russian bombers and missiles. As an example, six months before Corona the NIEs predicted that the Soviets would have 140 to 200 intercontinental nuclear missiles deployed by 1961. That estimate became 10 to 25 soon after the first film recovery. Armed with this information, President Kennedy compelled the Soviets to remove their missiles from Cuba. Every American president since then has known exactly how many pieces were on the chess board and how they are deployed. In this way, satellite photography has given our presidents the poise and confidence needed to conduct our affairs in a calm and prudent way.   Arms control agreements have been important beneficiaries of this satellite reconnaissance. It is only with the confidence that Corona provided that one could negotiate and monitor arms control treaties. Each of these agreements recognizes National Technical Means as a legitimate and important aspect of the treaty. This is the diplomatic term for satellite reconnaissance, which is now widely understood to be a desirable and stabilizin influence for international affairs.  

Environmental Benefit   The world is reaping a second benefit from Corona. For almost forty years, reconnaissance spacecraft have been recording the environmental history of our planet in unmatched detail. These photographs show changes to the earth's surface - although primarily over the former USSR and China. They document the alarming shrinkage of fresh water lakes - like the Sea of Aralsk. With newly released data it is possible to measure the pollution in rivers and along coastlines. They chronicle deforestation and the gradual encroachment of deserts. Corona photography is being used to study volcanology - especially on Kamchatka. This rich source is beginning to play an important role in scientific evaluations of environmental questions.  

Role of Physicists Physicists’ contributions towards the development of our strategic reconaissance capabilities should be a source of considerable pride to the American Physical Society. Physicists were influential advisors in the beginning: recognizing technical opportunities, catalyzing technical decisions and moving presidents to act. Their advice carried great weight with Eisenhower and Kennedy because they had no departmental loyalties and because they were intellectually committed to objectivity. Physicists are optimistic and adventuresome by nature. Because they try to understand nature at a fundamental level, they have the knowledge and confidence to take large steps. This was abundantly demonstrated during the Second World War in the radar and atomic bomb projects. It was shown again in the development of overhead reconnaissance systems.  

Bissell and others who managed these programs within government were economists and lawyers. That changed when John Kennedy moved into the White House. Physicists like Harold Brown and John Foster took influential positions in the Defense Department. Bissell's place was taken by Herbert Scoville with a doctorate in physical chemistry and I succeeded Scoville. Ten years after receiving a degree in theoretical physics at MIT, I found myself in charge of the U 2 program, Oxcart development and Corona reconnaissance satellites. I brought other physicists and scientists into those programs - both as government employees and as advisors. I persuaded Sidney Drell to take a sabbatical leave from Stanford to help us with Corona and he has been an influential advisor in such programs ever since. Land recruited Richard Garwin who has been extraordinarily effective for thirty years.   

When I left government service, I was eventually replaced by Leslie Dirks - a physicist from MIT and Oxford. An unusual Air Force officer with a Ph.D. in physics - Lew Allen - played an important role in these programs and later became Chief of Staff of the Air Force. When the primary responsibility for such programs passed to the National Reconnaissance Office, it was led during important periods by two physicists: John McLucas and Hans Mark. It is important to recognize also the enormous contributions of engineers, craftsmen, assembly workers, airmen, Air Force officers and enlisted men and CIA communication and security people. What is abundantly clear, however, is that the strategic reconnaissance program as we know it would not have been created without the decisive contributions of a dozen physicists.  

The scientific team I gathered at CIA went on to build three new satellite systems: each more capable than Corona. When the government eventually opens the windows on the reconnaissance programs which followed Corona, the American people will learn of technical achievements more impressive than the Apollo moon landings. The two programs proceeded in parallel - one in utmost secrecy, the other on national television. Both served to steady our course during the dangerous years of the cold war. Apollo generated public confidence. Corona generated presidential confidence. The APS should take considerable pride in the contributions that its members made to this historic effort.      

Albert D. Wheelon

Visiting Scientist, Environmental Technology Lab

NOA, Boulder, CO



Physics to Wage Peace


Presented at the Symposium on the History of Physics in the National Defense

1999 APS Centennial Meeting, Atlanta, GA , March 24, 1999


C. Paul Robinson



Almost as long as there have been nuclear weapons, arms control efforts have attempted to develop a stable, international norm against their use. In fact, monitoring and verification methods have been proposed for treaties dealing with the full range of weapons of mass destruction: nuclear, chemical, biological, and radiological. In the process of fielding and operating these monitoring systems, much fundamental physics information has been developed–from measurements of galactic gamma bursts to the natural seismic background. This paper reviews several of the most important advances in verification technology and points the way to new work that is involving physicists from around the world in the development of international monitoring systems. It also outlines ongoing efforts to apply these tools to the fundamental causes of conflicts between nations and to reduce the potential for such conflicts by providing technical means to enhance confidence between the parties to agreements.


The first agreement to limit nuclear testing was the 1958 to 1961 Nuclear Test Moratorium. This agreement was a precursor to the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty that banned nuclear tests in the atmosphere, underwater, and in space. The United States Atomic Energy Commission was tasked with developing instrumentation to ensure that other parties to the treaty were abiding by the agreement not to test. In order to meet this tasking, the Vela program was created. Vela had a seismic component, both regional and teleseismic, and a space component. In the post-Sputnik era, it was felt that satellites might make ideal platforms on which to place detectors in order to look down at the other side of the earth as well as to look outward into space. The first Vela satellite (see Fig. 1), weighing in at only fifty pounds, was launched in 1963, and by 1970 a constellation of twelve was in orbit. For their time, these were very sophisticated measurement systems, solar-powered and utilizing more than 4,000 transistors to perform some on-board signal analysis in order to reduce the telemetering demand. The principal instrument was a radiometer called a "bangmeter" that looked for the characteristic double-humped optical output of a nuclear explosion in the atmosphere–the first peak resulting from gamma-induced fluorescence in the air and the second much slower rise-time peak resulting from the fireball itself (see Fig. 2).


The Vela system was involved in a major controversy following the detection by a single satellite of a "flash in the South Atlantic" on September 22, 1979 that was picked up and telemetered to earth. Most system experts were convinced that a nuclear explosion had occurred off the East Coast of South Africa. President Carter’s Administration refused to accept that it was conclusively a nuclear test, noting that no nation had (then) claimed credit for such an explosion. The controversy was never officially settled and the one important outcome was to add a requirement that, in the future, there would have to be simultaneous data from two independent sensors before a conclusive ruling would be made. In 1984, the Vela mission was assumed by a new system of detectors riding piggy-back on Department of Defense satellites–first the Defense Support System satellites, whose primary mission was to detect rocket launches on the earth, and later on the Global Positioning Satellite constellation. These systems have grown more sophisticated over time, incorporating optical, x-ray, g -ray, and electromagnetic pulse sensors.


These space instruments fielded in the name of arms control have also become major sources of data for a wide spectrum of natural phenomena, both near the earth and in space. They detected the first gamma bursts from within our own galaxy and have been a primary source of data on both major lightning storms and bolides, large meteorites that explode while still in the atmosphere. These satellites meet the requirements of being "independent platforms," as well as providing a highly accurate position location through cross-correlation of signals from different satellites. They will continue to provide the United States with an important capability to supplement the earth-based International Monitoring Systems for monitoring the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.


III. Seismic

The three United States nuclear weapons labs–Sandia, Los Alamos, and Lawrence Livermore–also divided up the workload for developing earth-based sensors for detecting and identifying nuclear tests. Lawrence researched teleseismic signals, those that propagate through and around the earth from a seismic event or an underground nuclear explosion; while Sandia worked on regional seismic waves, those that propagate less than 2000 km. Los Alamos specialized in both hydro-acoustic sensors to detect underwater explosions and infrasound sensors, designed to detect the very low frequency acoustic waves that propagate around the earth, bouncing between the earth’s surface and the ionosphere.


In 1966 the first prototype of an unattended seismic station was put into service in Alaska. It was soon followed by one in Utah and another in New Mexico (see Fig. 3). These systems could operate continuously and unattended for up to 120 days, with data recorded in ways that made them highly tamper resistant. Host nations could monitor, after the fact, that only the seismic data was being transmitted. Later the stations were retrofitted with satellite communications systems that used public key encryption, making them even more tamper resistant.


These early developments were improved over time, as the seismic sensors continued to both improve and to be miniaturized–from heavy cylinders six feet in length to instruments smaller than a soda can. More and more nations began building and operating seismic stations, thereby monitoring seismic activity virtually everywhere on the globe. These systems provide the basis for the design of what will be the International Monitoring System, now in final stages of development under the direction of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Preparatory Commission in Vienna. The initial system will include 140 seismic stations, 60 infrasound stations, 6 hydro-acoustic stations, and 5 so-called t-wave stations (sensors placed on small islands). Finally, there will be 80 radionuclide collection and monitoring stations. All of these will be operating when the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty enters into force.


IV. On-Site Inspections and Cooperative Monitoring

In the mid-1980’s the United States and the Soviet Union began negotiations on the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty–an agreement not just to limit, but completely to eliminate an entire class of missile systems. Late in the negotiations, for the first time, the Soviet government voiced its willingness to consider on-site inspection as a means of assuring that prohibited missiles were not being built. The United States quickly began to develop technology to monitor for such an agreement. During a three-month period in 1986 a prototype inspection facility was constructed at Sandia to demonstrate and evaluate technology for portal-perimeter monitoring. The exit portals from missile production plants would be fitted with linear shape arrays and weight scales. If a vehicle capable of transporting a missile came through the portal, its physical extent and weight would be determined. If the measured parameters fell within the range that could include a prohibited missile, an x-ray profile (measured using a high-energy x-ray system with some detectors deactivated to prevent imaging of the sensitive missile internals) would be obtained to demonstrate that the shipment did not include a treaty-limited item. These systems were put into operation following entry into force of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and they continue to operate successfully at the Votkinsk Missile plant in Russia and the Magna (Utah) Rocket Motor facility.

The United States and Soviet Union also moved to develop on-site monitoring regimes that could be used to verify both the Threshold Test Ban Treaty and the Treaty on Nuclear Explosions for Peaceful Purposes. In the spring of 1988 the two sides agreed to carry out a Joint Verification Experiment in which each side would bring instruments to the other’s test site to make direct hydrodynamic and seismic measurements to ensure that explosions were less than the 150 kiloton yield mandated in these treaties. The Joint Verification Experiment was doubtless the most extensive cooperative data collection endeavor. It involved large crews of physicists, engineers, and technicians from both countries for several months’ duration. Following the successful measurements and joint data analysis, verification protocols to the two treaties were negotiated. They were ratified unanimously and entered into force in 1990. Although the participants were unaware of it at the time, the opening up of working relationships among the nuclear laboratories in both the United States and the Soviet Union, developed as a part of the Joint Verification Experiment, set the stage for many of the joint projects and programs, particularly the development of special nuclear materials controls, that are occurring today.

V. Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and OPEN SKIES


In the early 1990’s the successful negotiation of the Conventional Forces in Europe agreement provided the opportunity for even wider application of cooperative monitoring and on-site inspections, this time to account for literally thousands of conventional weapons and their delivery systems. Here again technology that was being developed in support of earlier agreements, particularly reflective particle tags (unique patterns of crystalline particles embedded in clear plastic) and electronic tags (small electronic devices that could be bonded to vehicles and read remotely), provided tamper-resistant "license plates" for monitoring and accounting.

A reduction of the East-West tensions in Europe also led to the resurrection of the oft-postponed "Open Skies" concept in which individual nations would open their air space for planes outfitted with agreed instrumentation to monitor what was taking place on the ground within their territories. One important instrument, synthetic aperture radar, provided the capability of seeing through clouds and during nighttime hours to obtain high-resolution radar images. The general standard, agreed in the Open Skies Treaty, was to limit the radar resolution to three meters to minimize intrusiveness while allowing large items of military hardware to be imaged. These short-notice aerial overflight inspections carried out cooperatively have been another hallmark of confidence building between states.

VI. Global Nuclear Materials Management


Beginning with the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor the Nonproliferation Treaty, and moving forward in time to the current Material Protection, Control, and Accounting agreements between the United States and the Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union, the development of sensors and systems to detect and monitor uranium and plutonium has continued to benefit from research efforts in many laboratories. These efforts are essential to confirming that materials that could be used to make nuclear weapons are properly safeguarded.

Five Department of Energy laboratories (Sandia, Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore, Argonne, and Pacific Northwest) are now active at fifty-three sites within the former Soviet Union working with local scientists to upgrade installed systems and to transfer materials protection and security technologies. The Soviet model for materials control relied on "guards, gates, and guns" and significant investments had not been made in monitoring and safeguards instrumentation. A key emphasis in the joint work is to tailor technology to help safeguard the material while also minimizing the costs of such security and control.

One prototype material protection program is of special interest: the use of the Internet to allow real-time, remote monitoring of stores of special nuclear material, which might otherwise be diverted to weapons use. In one ongoing demonstration project, storage sites at the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow and the Argonne West site in Idaho have been instrumented with a variety of material protection, video, and security instruments. Data from these instruments are encrypted using public key methods and transmitted over the Internet. The mutually accessible Internet web site includes a live video of the storage area that is cued by any changes in the sensor’s field of view. The data encryption system being used allows each side to completely decode all of the data that is being transmitted from its site (to confirm that only the agreed data is being transmitted) but does not permit the side to tamper with or change that data prior to its transmission. This data authentication system was originally developed for nuclear data sharing between the United States and Australia and is proving to be quite successful in the current demonstration. We expect to see more applications of this very powerful monitoring and confidence-building technology used in the future.

VII. Monitoring of the Chemical and Biological



Monitoring the production and/or weaponization of chemical or biological systems presents considerable challenge to physicists and other scientists. More than two dozen nations around the world are thought to possess such weapons in various stages of development. The ability to monitor their activities and distinguish them from permitted activities such as the production of pesticide chemicals or the preparation of medical vaccines is not yet in hand. The efforts of the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq showed the need for effective, portable, and reliable detectors that can identify chemical or biological agents without false positives.

The quest to develop such instruments, and to achieve remote monitoring systems (e.g., systems that can operate from aircraft or space platforms) are stressing the state of the art. For example, systems that incorporate on-platform species for comparative analysis along with considerable on-board data processing are being developed in several laboratories and universities; and the Multi-Spectral Thermal Imager satellite now under development will incorporate more than twenty-four spectral bands in unique ways throughout the infrared, visible, and ultraviolet. Despite these technological advances, detection of these materials is much more difficult than detection of nuclear materials, and the far greater diversity of such materials makes this perhaps the most difficult of present technological puzzles.

VIII. Future Opportunities

The use of technical verification methods for monitoring treaty provisions, as well as for establishing mutual monitoring regimes, was born during the Cold War and has led to many collaborative developments between the United States and the nations of the former Soviet Union. The potential for the use of similar techniques as a means to build confidence and "wage peace" between other nations presents many promising opportunities. Use of monitoring instruments to cost effectively monitor a border region, such as the Siachen Glacier between India, Pakistan, and China, can begin to provide confidence and, in time, build a sound technical basis for trust in the activities of any parties in the region.

It is this use of "Physics to Wage Peace" that I chose for the title of this paper. It represents a major opportunity for us to apply military technologies developed during the Cold War to reduce tensions in the post-cold-war era. In particular, we note that the motivations to acquire weapons of mass destruction by a nation are almost always driven by concerns for their own security, and aggravated by their perceptions concerning neighbors in their region. By using cooperative monitoring to reduce these tensions we can promote greater stability and keep border conflicts from blossoming into regional wars.

Sandia created the Cooperative Monitoring Center in 1994, and since then, we have had individuals from more than forty nations participate in training, technology transfer, and conferences on ways to achieve greater stability and peace. There is much more that I believe can and should be done to use technology to promote peace.

In this spirit I would like to close with a quote from Albert Einstein, in a talk to physics students at Cal Tech in 1931.

"Concern for man himself and his fate must always form the chief interest of all technical endeavors–in order that the creations of our mind shall be a blessing and not a curse to mankind. Never forget that in the midst of your diagrams and equations."

Ambassador C. Paul Robinson

Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM 87185




The Future of Nuclear Arms Control

Steve Fetter

The end of the Cold War stimulated great progress in nuclear arms control. The START I Treaty cut strategic arsenals roughly in half, to 6000 "accountable" warheads. START II, which has not yet been ratified by Russia, promises to reduce the number of deployed strategic warheads by almost another factor of two, to 3500 warheads. Two years ago in Helsinki, the U.S. and Russia agreed to negotiate a new START III Treaty that would reduce the total to 2500. In addition, both countries promised to reduce tactical nuclear forces, to take bombers off alert, and to end the production of fissile material for weapons.

There has also been great progress in nonproliferation. South Africa dismantled its nuclear arsenal; Brazil and Argentina ended their nuclear weapons programs; and Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine returned all of the nuclear weapons on their territory to Russia; and all joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Iraq’s nuclear program was dismantled and North Korea’s was frozen. In 1995 the NPT was renewed indefinitely, and in 1996 the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was signed by all the nuclear weapon states. Nuclear weapon-free zones cover the entire Southern Hemisphere, from Latin America to Africa to Southeast Asia and the South Pacific.

Given this track record of success, there is an understandable temptation to conclude that the nuclear danger is behind us. Unfortunately, nuclear weapons remain a real danger to the security of the United States.

First, there is the danger posed by the huge Russian arsenal in a period of turmoil. The threat of premeditated strikes has been replaced by the risk of accidental, unauthorized, or erroneous use of nuclear weapons. This dangeris amplified by the possibility that nuclear weapons, fissile materials, or nuclear technologies and expertise might flow to other countries or to subnational groups. The stability of Russian democracy and the possible return to hostile relations also generate concerns.

The long-term stability of the nonproliferation regime is uncertain. The current regime cannot endure forever–a regime in which five countries (eight, if one includes Israel, India, and Pakistan) are allowed to possess nuclear weapons while all others are not. Ou