Working out inspection provisions acceptable to both the United States and Russia is still the principal stumbling block holding up test ban and disarmament agreements, according to participants in panel discussion of last September's Pugwash conference in Britain.
The Pugwash Conferences of scientists from both sides of the Iron Curtain meet annually and spend most of their time discussing the technical problems found in disarmament agreements.
The seven-man panel, which appeared before an audience of almost 100 in Lowell Lecture Hall last night, was sponsored by the Boston Area Faculty Group on Public Issues and consisted of professors from the Harvard and M.I.T. faculties.
Matthew S. Messelson, associate professor of Biology, explained that the Russians regard secrecy as offsetting the American numerical superiority in nuclear missiles.
An important subject of discussion at the 1962 Conference, therefore, was methods of verifying disarmament which the Soviet Union would be able to accept without fear of espionage.
Bernard T. Feld, professor of physics at M.I.T., said that one proposal of this type had been a suggestion that the inspectors' only communication with their governments, once they had entered the area they were to inspect, should be a single word--"yes" or "no." They would then remain in the country they had inspected until the completion of the entire disarmament process.
Wassily W. Leontief, Henry Lee Professor of Economics, also explained that the Russians regard secrecy as a weapon and are therefore unwilling to yield it as a mere procedure preliminary to disarmament.
When discussing possible disarmament treaties, he explained, the Russians are willing to agree to have inspectors supervise the destruction of missiles, but not to international inspection to assure that no forbidden weapons remained.
Leontief suggested that the eventual solution might be a two-staged disarmament, with only supervision of the destruction process during the first stage. Later, during the second stage, general inspections to determine the exact level of armaments each side still possessed would be conducted.
Other members of the panel included Paul M. Doty, professor of Chemistry, John T. Edsall, professor of Biochemistry, and Alexander Rich, professor of Bio-physics at M.I.T. David F. Cavers, professor of Law, moderated