Your editorial (Dec. 4) was an excellent survey of the continued threat of additional states obtaining nuclear weapons and the role of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in preventing this. But your statement that the NPT "seeks to freeze at five the number of states that have nuclear weapons" may lead some readers to believe that the treaty authorizes indefinite possession of nuclear weapons by the five original nuclear weapons states. A subsequent reference to "full nuclear disarmament" only implies that the five countries must give up their nuclear weapons. Indeed the NPT clearly calls for nuclear disarmament by all states.
But during the 30 years of the treaty there has been virtually no discussion of nuclear disarmament. The irrational nuclear arms race occurred and so many nuclear bombs were built that even after the bilateral U.S.-Russian START I and II and the INF agreements to reduce nuclear weapons are completed there will still be more strategic nuclear bombs than before the NPT. The recently announced conclusions of the U.S. nuclear policy review include keeping 6,000 nuclear bombs and finding new uses for them.
It would not be surprising if many readers believe that the 164 countries that have signed the NPT approve of our continued possession of nuclear weapons. Your editorial notes that even most experts feel we should keep a "light missile shield" to deter nuclear weapons proliferation despite their near-unanimous support of the NPT.
It is important for U.S. citizens to know that top U.S. generals have stated that nuclear weapons have no military usefulness, even as a deterrent against those of other nations; our overwhelming non-nuclear military superiority makes them unnecessary. An important action we should take is to affirm our compliance with the NPT by announcing a date for initiating negotiations for international nuclear disarmament. This would help dissuade other nations from obtaining nuclear weapons.
EARL BUDIN MD, Santa Barbara