The argument that Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) programs are faltering [op-ed, March 4] does not withstand scrutiny.

In one decade, for less than is being spent this year on missile defense, CTR has eliminated 6,032 nuclear warheads, 495 intercontinental ballistic missiles and 438 ICBM silos, 103 bombers, 510 nuclear air-to-surface missiles, 369 submarine-launched ballistic missiles and 408 SLBM launchers, 25 ballistic missile submarines, and 194 nuclear test tunnels or holes.

Has some CTR money not achieved its intended results? Absolutely. That is why we support congressional oversight of the program.

The United States faces a range of threats from stateless terrorists and rogue nations. We have a new relationship with Russia and an opportunity to improve global security. But Russia maintains the world's largest arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and materials. This is not lost on the likes of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. For less than one-half of 1 percent of what the United States spends on defense, we can help eliminate the risk of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons falling into the wrong hands. So it is in our direct security interests to invest more, not less, in preventing rogue leaders and terrorists from gaining access to Russia's weapons, weapons materials and weapons know-how.

JOHN SPRATT

U.S. Representative (D-S.C.)

ELLEN TAUSCHER

U.S. Representative (D-Calif.)

Washington

The writers are members of the House Armed Services Committee.