Courtesy Reuters

AYEAR and a half ago the Western powers began negotiations with the Soviet Union for a treaty to end the testing of nuclear weapons. The negotiations were warmly welcomed by the public, and by scientists in particular. It appeared to many people that this was one area of disarmament in which agreement should not be too difficult to reach. The generally optimistic feeling about the negotiations had its origin in three widely held beliefs. It was believed that the development of nuclear weapons had reached a point of technical stagnation; that the military consequences of new inventions in this field would be small; and that a political agreement to cease further development could be adequately controlled by a system of long-range explosion-detectors. These views have been repeatedly expressed by scientific experts, and many citizens and politicians have come to accept them without serious question.

It is my purpose here to argue the contrary views. I believe that radically new kinds of nuclear weapons are technically possible, that the military and political effects of such weapons would be important, and that the development of such weapons can hardly be arrested by any means less drastic than international control of all nuclear

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  • FREEMAN J. DYSON, Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton; Professor of Physics, Cornell University, 1951-53
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