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'Killing the Wrong Weapon'

December 27, 1987

Talk about the "vulnerability" of a nuclear missile system is obscene, in view of the fact that each of the 25,000-plus warheads in the superpower arsenals, if dropped on a major metropolitan area, will kill half a million people. And the "solution" to that "vulnerability" problem by deploying nuclear warheads in a "road-mobile configuration" is doubly obscene. Can you imagine being behind one of those suckers on the freeway when a nuclear attack is imminent? Will these mobile missiles cruise the roads of the High Sierra at 15 m.p.h., or race across the Nevada salt flats at 90? Is that a "realistic alternative" to a "rail-garrison" for the MX? Gimme a break!

More important, the putative "vulnerability" of our land-based nuclear missiles to a decapitating Soviet strike has become largely irrelevant. The United States has a bloated arsenal of more than 14,600 nuclear warheads, of which only 2,200 are aboard missiles in land-based silos. It is possible, but by no means certain that the Soviet Union would be able to destroy most of the land-based missiles. But it is certain that the Soviet Union would be able to destroy only a few and perhaps none of the 20 U.S. nuclear ballistic-missile submarines (carrying more than 5,600 warheads). Any one of our nuclear subs could wipe out the Soviet Union as a functioning society. Any one of the Soviet subs could do the same to us.

Chess is an old and worthy game, but it cannot be played with nuclear warheads. Anyone who sits around formulating schemes for flocks of Midgetman to scatter in a valley of giant mushrooms ought to be recognized as a suicidal psychopath.

ANTONIE K. CHURG

Southern California Federation

of Scientists

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