HC Deb 01 August 1962 vol 664 cc555-7
4. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Minister of Defence if he will make a statement on the official Anglo-American talks in London on the detection of underground test explosions.

Mr. Thorneycroft

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given by the Prme Minister to Questions by the hon. Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason) and the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) on 17th July. I have nothing to add.

Mr. Allaun

Is it not a fact that recently a small underground test in France was detected by an American station 5,000 miles away? Further, since it is understood that both American and British scientists now agree that small tests underground can be detected by existing means, what is preventing acceptance of the proposals made by the neutral nations?

Mr. Thorneycroft

The fact that some advances have, happily, been made in the detection of underground tests, and in distinguishing them from earthquakes and other disturbances, is important, and its importance should not be under-rated, but it is not, of course, a complete solution to the problem; it is only part and not all.

7. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Minister of Defence what advice he has received from his scientific advisers regarding the availability of instruments which are able to detect all underground tests within a range of 1,400 miles.

Mr. Thorneycroft

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister explained on 17th July in reply to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, there have been certain improvements recently in detection techniques and in the methods of assessing the results. This is not the same thing as the invention of an instrument to detect underground events infallibly, or to distinguish all earthquakes from nuclear explosions.

Mr. Henderson

In view of reports in reputable newspapers that a considerable advance has been made in the recording of underground explosions, whether by earthquake or otherwise, is it not time that Her Majesty's Government gave the nation a little more information on the subject, more especially as the question of on-site inspections appears to be the main difficulty in the way of securing a nuclear test ban agreement? Can we not have some information of the advances that have been made?

Mr. Thorneycroft

Very full statements have already been made on this subject. I do not think that I can really add to them, but can only repeat that they are important advances but not a complete solution of the problem.

Mr. Lubbock

Can the Minister say how many seismic events took place in the Soviet Union in 1961 about which there was any doubt whether or not they were of nuclear origin?

Mr. Thorneycroft

Certainly not without notice.

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