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Nuclear Weapons

February 11, 1994

* "North Korea Plays a Dangerous Game" states your Feb. 7 editorial, which goes on to remind us "how great a worry North Korea's nuclear program has become." You are right, there is no greater worry than a global body politic diseased by the cancer-like spread of nuclear weapons.

The problem, largely ignored by our news media, is that since the dawn of the nuclear age we have been guilty of a demeaning double standard: While preaching nuclear abstention to others, we ourselves have been practicing precisely the opposite.

While serving on our country's delegation to the 1978 U.N. Special Session on Disarmament, I was told by a delegate from Pakistan that the leader of her nation had recently expressed his determination to obtain nuclear weapons "even if our people have to eat grass." She followed this with a question: How can the United States and the Soviet Union be too blind to see that their senseless competition for so-called nuclear superiority creates powerful pressure upon others to become "nuclear-haves"?

Let me stipulate to simplistic sloganeers that we can't put the genie back in the bottle. Should we therefore permit the genie to multiply to a point at which nuclear catastrophe becomes a question of when rather than if? In Cold War competition the focus was on bombs. If we can now shift to brains, there surely exists sufficient human intelligence to construct a political pathway that leads, incrementally, to non-proliferation which is internationally accepted and enforced. The first step must be ours--a determined effort by President Clinton to speed up and strengthen negotiations to ban all nuclear testing, everywhere, by 1995.

HAROLD WILLENS

Los Angeles

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