Richard Latter, 76, a theoretical physicist who warned of clandestine ways to cheat arms-reduction treaties during the Cold War, died of lung cancer Dec. 2 at the Hospice of Northern Virginia. He lived in McLean.
Dr. Latter, who once was termed "conservative cubed" politically, headed what became the physics department at Rand Corp. in the 1960s.
He later became a founder and vice president of the defense technology think tank R and D Associates (RDA) in 1971.
He led RDA's Washington office from 1974 to 1979. Logicon Inc., now a subsidiary of Northrup Grumman, bought RDA in the early 1980s.
In the 1960s, Dr. Latter warned of the ease of skirting nuclear-arms-testing regulations while a member of the U.S. delegation to the Geneva-based Conference for the Discontinuance of Nuclear Weapons Tests and a science adviser to the strategic arms limitation talks (SALT).
Underground tests, he said, could be conceived in a filled cavity, thereby minimizing the seismic waves of the explosion.
Not only could this happen in the event of a small blast, but also one larger than 10 kilotons, said Harold Brode, theoretical nuclear physicist who specialized in the effects of weapons blast radiation.
While a foe of a comprehensive treaty, Dr. Latter helped work with Soviet scientists at the Geneva conference to develop what would in 1964 become a treaty banning atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons.
Dr. Latter, a Chicago native, was a Navy veteran of World War II. He was a 1942 physics graduate of the California Institute of Technology, from which he also received a doctorate in theoretical physics.
He then joined California-based Rand as the think tank was broadening its relationship with the growing Lawrence Livermore weapons laboratory. Dr. Latter was acting head of Livermore's theoretical physics division in 1952 and 1953.
Dr. Latter had served on the Defense Science Board, the Atomic Energy Commission Plowshare Committee to determine peaceful uses of atomic energy and the President's Scientific Advisory Committee.
Dr. Latter received the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Memorial Award from the Atomic Energy Commission in 1968 and the Defense Intelligence Agency's Exceptional Civilian Service Medal in 1980.
His marriage to Harriet Wibel ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife of 37 years, Natalie Latter, of McLean; two sons from his first marriage, Dr. William Latter of San Dimas, Calif., and Dr. Robert Latter of Manhattan Beach, Calif.; a daughter from his second marriage, Katherine Ricketts of McLean; and two grandchildren.
A son from his first marriage, Richard James Latter, died in 1990.