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  Scientists Want Nuclear Arsenal Cut

By Barry Schweid
AP Diplomatic Writer
Tuesday, June 5, 2001; 6:03 p.m. EDT

WASHINGTON –– As President Bush prepares for summit talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, 16 American scientists and security experts are urging him to sharply reduce the U.S. nuclear arsenal to a total of 1,000 warheads.

The proposal, in a report released Tuesday, would amount to a cut of more than 90 percent of the roughly 10,500 nuclear warheads in the American arsenal for potential use against Russia and other countries.

The cutback, urged by the Federation of American Scientists, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Union of Concerned Scientists, would include the elimination of 1,670 tactical nuclear warheads that remained after former President George H.W. Bush deactivated almost all the weapons in the category in 1991.

The tactical nuclear warheads that remain are kept at Air Force bases in New Mexico and Nevada, on cruise missiles at Navy bases in Washington and Georgia, and in a few NATO countries.

The weapons are not needed to defend Europe – strategic nuclear weapons do the job – and they could be stolen or fall into unauthorized hands, the report said.

Bush, due to see Putin on June 16 in Slovenia, has said he is prepared to sharply reduce U.S. nuclear weapons while making plans for an anti-missile defense.

The scientists and security experts would cut back much further and are skeptical of Bush's plan for an anti-missile shield.

Deployment of a national missile defense would undermine Russia's confidence that it could retaliate quickly if the United States attacked, the report said. Russia would need to maintain its readiness for quick launch of its long-range nuclear weapons. And China, the scientists and security experts said, would likely respond by increasing its nuclear forces, possibly tenfold.

Bush has not decided on the kind of anti-missile program he would build. An administration review of options is underway.

At a news conference Tuesday, Richard L. Garwin of the Council on Foreign Relations said deploying a few interceptors near Grand Forks, N.D., or in Turkey as a shield against attack from Iran, might enhance U.S. security.

Tom Collina, director of global security at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the ultimate goal of the three groups is the prohibition of nuclear weapons. The report's 10-year plan, Collina said, is a step in that direction.


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© Copyright 2001 The Associated Press

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