§ Mr. Frank Allaun
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) if he will make a statement on recent developments in the techniques of detecting underground nuclear explosions;
(2) if, in view of recent developments in the techniques of detecting underground nuclear explosions and the possibility of a resumption of atmospheric testing because of the development of the anti-ballistic missile system, he will take the initiative to secure a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty.
§ Mr. Michael Stewart
Recent developments have been described in the report of the International Institute for Peace 197W and Conflict Research (S.I.P.R.I.) which was produced by scientists from 10 countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the Soviet Union. They concluded that it was now possible by seismic methods to distinguish between explosions and earthquakes down to the equivalent of 10 kilotons in hard rock; further improvements in identification could be expected from the application of current research results, but the validity of the technique below 10 kilotons had yet to be established. It was further recognised that weaker signals would be received from explosions carried out in less dense material or in underground cavities; in these conditions the apparent size of explosions would be reduced or they might be unidentified.
My right hon. Friend the Minister of State with special responsibility for disarmament has already taken the initiative in putting forward proposals for a comprehensive test ban to the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee which he described to the House on 18th July.—[Vol. 768, c. 1804.]