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Preventing Nuclear Terrorism

September 25, 2004

Re "Preventable Nightmare," Opinion, Sept. 19: Professor Graham Allison's "three no's" strategy to eliminate the threat of nuclear terror is a dead end because it is based solely on military and technical means of control: nuclear monopoly and strict weapons inventory.

The strategy of terrorism can be countered only by a political strategy.

The first political necessity is that the current nuclear "haves" commit to cease new nuclear weapons development, drastically reduce their current inventories of nuclear arms and cease unprovoked aggression outside their borders.

This strategy recognizes the reality that the only two states currently thought to be developing nuclear weaponry -- Iran and North Korea -- are doing so because they perceive themselves to be at risk of military attack by the United States.

The second political necessity is to change the foreign policy that we can change, namely, the foreign policy of the United States.

It is imperative that we abandon the attempt now in progress to militarily dominate and control the territory between the Jordan and Indus rivers, and stretching north and west to the borders of Russia and China.

After that, the U.S. can dismantle an additional several hundred military installations worldwide and adopt a policy of nonintervention in the internal political affairs of other nations.

These political strategies, as opposed to Allison's finger-in-the-dike pipe dreams, will go far toward creating a world in which terrorism is neither a desirable nor viable strategy.

John Yates

Los Angeles


As Allison's piece makes clear, Americans and the world are far from safe from the threat of nuclear terrorism; Al Qaeda wants to nuke a U.S. city. There are simple ways to stop it.

Despite its rhetoric to the contrary, the Bush administration has failed to take the necessary steps to secure nuclear material and deal with those states (such as North Korea and Iran) that are attempting to develop nuclear arsenals.

In contrast, John Kerry has pledged to take steps to secure all nuclear materials in Russia in the next four years (see the Democratic Party platform).

He is committed to putting our resources to work at home and abroad to remove the threat of nuclear terrorism and dirty bombs.

The Bush administration has had two years to show its priorities. They appear to be securing oil and contracts for their corporate friends rather than safety for Americans.

Let's make a difference in November and elect a president who will deal decisively and effectively with the threat of nuclear terrorism.

Nancy Lee Marks

Long Beach


Allison's commentary suggests that a rigorous security program can make our cities safe from a nuclear attack by preventing the weaponry from falling into terrorists' hands.

It seems that pressing for action to dispel the anger that motivates terrorists would be far more effective to prevent such an occurrence than trying to come up with an infallible security program.

Or, perhaps security is the approach du jour, palatable to our administration, which seems incapable of making any policy changes that would lessen anger toward the U.S.

Douglas Croixford

Costa Mesa

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