Weinberger's article exemplifies the "pernicious myths" that have "clouded the debate" surrounding nuclear testing. The secretary should be reminded that it is not the test ban advocates who have a conflict of interest in advising on the need for nuclear test explosions. In any case, his arguments are contradicted by the nation's foremost experts in nuclear weapons design and testing.
Weinberger's first argument for nuclear testing, that the stockpile must be checked for leaky warheads and duds, is specious.
A private citizen who calls the public affairs office of the Nevada test site will learn that fewer than 5% of the 20-odd U.S. nuclear tests each year are for reliability checks; the other 95% are for weapons and delivery systems development.
The experts--even those who favor nuclear weapons testing--agree that "maintenance of stockpile reliability" is not a real reason for nuclear testing. Weinberger's reference to the problems with "one-third of all nuclear weapons designs introduced into our stockpile since 1958" is misleading because he includes warheads introduced into the stockpile during the 1958-1961 moratorium, and, therefore, without adequate testing.
The one-third applies only to those designs foolishly entered into inventory from 1958-1961. Livermore scientist Dr. Ray Kidder, in a California legislative hearing on Feb. 3, testified that none of these duds required nuclear testing to fix. No bombs have been put into inventory without testing since 1961, and the percentage of surprises since then is near zero.