LETTER TO THE EDITOR: START just the first step in a bad series

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A letter by William Hartung “Smart new START” (Thursday) explained his support for the ratification of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) while criticizing Kim R. Holmes for the column opposing ratification of the treaty (“A better way to arms control,” Page 2, July 22). Both authors are taking aim at the wrong issue.

The real danger undermining the future capability of maintaining national and international security is the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). It mandates: “The United States will not develop new nuclear warheads, Life Extension Programs will use only nuclear components based on previously tested designs and will not support new military missions or provide for new military capabilities.” Such a categorical statement undermines the criterion for a successful deterrent posture by jeopardizing the surety of retaining safe, reliable and effective warheads.

Other statements in the NPR diminish the concept of deterrence by specifying what reaction would be taken to an attack and, more important, what actions would not lead to a nuclear response. Deterrence always has relied on perception and uncertainty. Removing this leads to a policy of retaliation rather than one of avoiding hostilities.

Senate leaders are content to leave the NPR to glide beneath the radar while holding distorted hearings on START. Of 28 witnesses called to give evidence, only two were opposed. That is hardly the way to collect a balanced view before the committee passes a recommendation to the full Senate.

It is the NPR that is directing bad policy. START is merely the first example of the downward slope.


Rockville, Md.

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