Readers React

Restocking the U.S. nuclear arsenal would send a terrible message

To the editor: The U.S. can lead in modernizing its nuclear arsenal, resuming nuclear testing and, in general, continuing to demonstrate the perceived military usefulness of nuclear weapons. Or, the U.S. can lead in pursuing negotiations in good faith to end the nuclear arms race and achieve complete nuclear disarmament. ("New nuclear weapons needed, many experts say, pointing to aged arsenal," Nov. 29)

The first path will cost $1 trillion over the next three decades, encourage nuclear proliferation and keep the nuclear arms race alive through the 21st century. The second path will demonstrate U.S. global leadership, allow precious resources to be used for meeting basic needs and fulfill U.S. legal obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

We have a choice about what kind of country we wish to be and what kind of world we will pass on to our children and grandchildren.

David Krieger, Santa Barbara

The writer is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.


To the editor: Contrary to some of the claims in this article, the United States does not need new nuclear weapons.

The U.S. nuclear arsenal remains highly reliable. American nuclear weapons do not have a "design life" beyond which they become obsolete. Every year the weapons labs disassemble and inspect a sample of weapons and test their non-nuclear components to certify the stockpile's reliability.

Moreover, the United States has a multibillion-dollar program to refurbish existing warheads to ensure they remain reliable for decades to come. It should continue with this refurbishment strategy, not design and produce new weapon types, which would be needlessly provocative and could introduce greater uncertainty about reliability.

Lisbeth Gronlund, Cambridge, Mass.

The writer is co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.


To the editor: The article on restocking the nation's nuclear arsenal gives me a better idea: Let's replace our aged stockpile of strategists and scientists with people who are not keen to keep dragging the Cold War and all its weapons and ideas into the future.

Why don't we use the money needed to make new nuclear weapons to build something else instead? How about roads, bridges and other important infrastructure? How about diplomacy?

I'm sorry that there are workers in missile installations having their lunches nicked by rodents due to the decrepit state of affairs. So close the places down.

Mike Vella, San Diego

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