Letter -- No ‘Safer' Nuclear Bomb Available

Saturday, January 3, 2009

In "A New Old Nuclear Arsenal," Michael O'Hanlon [op-ed, Dec. 25] stated that Barack Obama's budget request "should not include money for the reliable replacement warhead, but his administration's first nuclear review should commit the United States to building more conservative and less deadly bombs by about 2015."

Mr. O'Hanlon failed to define what he considers to be a "more conservative and less deadly" nuclear weapon (a kinder, gentler bomb?), but he suggested that "The United States developed more conservative weapons designs in the early years of the nuclear era that might be usable." Which weapons he is talking about? The strategic nuclear weapons of the 1960s, '70s and '80s generally had yields in the megaton range, much larger than most of those the United States now deploys.

Mr. O'Hanlon was correct when he said, "We have little reason to think that today's nuclear arsenal is unreliable." Yes, and we can count on the fact that if the strategic nuclear arsenals of the United States and Russia are ever detonated in conflict, they will reliably kill most people on Earth. Building more nuclear weapons of any type will not change this fact; nor will changing the meaning of the English language to make the idea saleable to the uninformed.


Senior Scientist

Physicians for Social Responsibility

South Columbia, Mo.

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