AUG. 2, 2017, reposted from the New York Times.
To the Editor:
Re “A Threat to Nuclear Arms Control” (editorial, July 30):
You rightly warn that American plans to spend more than $1 trillion over the next 30 years upgrading nuclear forces will undermine arms control and fuel a new arms race. But it is not enough to abandon this dangerous, expensive plan to enhance our ability to destroy the world.
United States nuclear policy is based on the belief that nuclear weapons deter their own use: that nuclear-armed states will refrain from attacking one another for fear of the counterattacks they would suffer. Yet we know of more than a dozen instances when nuclear-armed countries began the process of launching their nuclear weapons, usually in the mistaken belief that their adversaries had already done so — more than a dozen times when deterrence failed.
And we are told that North Korea must not obtain a nuclear capability because it cannot reliably be deterred. It is time to abandon this failed policy and to pursue the real security of a world free of nuclear weapons.
IRA HELFAND, LEEDS, MASS.
The writer is co-president of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, the recipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize.
To the Editor:
Your assertion that “since setting off the nuclear age, America has been the major, if imperfect, force behind the restraints that exist”
ignores the sorry history of the United States’ provocative expansion of its nuclear arms and delivery system programs as well as its rejection of numerous offers from Russia, China and even North Korea to ratchet down the hostilities.
Start with President Harry S. Truman’s rejection of Stalin’s 1946 proposal to ban nuclear weapons under United Nations supervision; to President Ronald Reagan’s rejection of Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s offer to negotiate for the abolition of nuclear weapons, conditioned on Mr.
Reagan’s agreeing not to seek military superiority in space with the “Star Wars” program, which Mr. Reagan refused.
Likewise, consider Vladimir V. Putin’s offer to President Bill Clinton to reduce our arsenals to 1,500 or 1,000 each and call on the other nuclear-weapon states to negotiate for their abolition, provided that we stopped developing antimissile bases in Poland and Romania, which Mr. Clinton refused. And President George W. Bush subsequently walked away from the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty negotiated with the Soviet Union.
As for North Korea, it’s clear that its leadership seeks negotiations, not war. North Korea was the only nuclear-weapon state voting for negotiations to ban the bomb last October at the United Nations.
Also, the Senate voted 98 to 2 to impose new sanctions on North Korea, Russia and Iran. What kind of restraint is that?
ALICE SLATER, NEW YORK
The writer serves on the coordinating committee of World Beyond War.
To the Editor:
Proposals by the Trump administration and some in Congress to spend $1 trillion on a new generation of nuclear weapons are extremely dangerous. Nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. The only conceivably justifiable nuclear arsenal is one that permits a secure second (retaliatory) strike.
Instead, weapon designers and war planners have introduced ever more “usable” nuclear weapons. The proposed new nuclear cruise missile would shorten nuclear reaction times and risk miscalculation in a crisis.
The Trump administration recently boycotted United Nations talks to abolish nuclear weapons. The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty requires existing nuclear powers to move in that direction in return for abstention by nonnuclear states. Spending a trillion dollars on new nuclear weapons will only buy global insecurity.
DAVID KEPPEL, BLOOMINGTON, IND.