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New Nuclear Weapons Would Endanger Us All

May 13, 2003

Re "Door Opened for New Era of Nuclear Arms," May 10: A U.S. Senate panel, under Republican control, has approved the development of "a new generation of nuclear weapons." Why do I now feel less secure, especially when these weapons are supposed to buy Americans greater security? Perhaps it is the knowledge that civilizations rise and fall. That over-investment in the military is a sign of a civilization's collapse. And when the American empire falls, what a horrible crash it will make. And in that crash may be my children, or my grandchildren, or yours.

When the Cold War ended, the U.S. was presented with the grandest opportunity in modern history: to build new and lasting structures of international cooperation so that the nations of the world could collectively address the monumental threats facing humanity. In the last decade we could have built an international criminal court, made deep cuts in the nuclear arsenal and curtailed global environmental degradation. Instead, America has gone in the opposite direction and receded into small-minded, selfish, tribal thinking.

Empires leave legacies. The European Christian empire gave us the Sistine Chapel and Chartres Cathedral. Egypt gave us the pyramids. The modern American empire is instead spending its treasure and genius on weapons of mass destruction. I invite you to go to the Nevada Test Site, where President Bush wants to resume nuclear tests. Take the Department of Energy tour. See America's gift to future generations -- 1,000 smoldering craters, radioactive for millenniums.

Jonathan Parfrey

Exec. Dir., Physicians

for Social Responsibility

Los Angeles


Well great, we're going to develop some new nukes, more destructive and more compact. The day after we develop a new wallet-sized nuke, the Chinese will be poring over the data in Beijing, and 10 years later, some fanatic will use a stolen one to honor his God by obliterating my 13-year-old and a million or so more. Eventually, by developing these weapons, we lead to our own destruction. If we didn't develop them, they would never see the light of day. Or maybe you don't believe that the least-safe dwelling is the one with a loaded gun in it.

Robert W. Kingston

San Clemente


Can't we all see the fantastic, despicable irony here? Bush's main justification for going to war with Iraq was to "rid that country of its weapons of mass destruction" (weapons we have yet to find). Meanwhile, nuclear weapons testing might resume in Nevada?

Julie Atherton


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