- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 30, 2002

Nuclear power plants are safe and secure

In his commentary on May 22 ("Set-up for a nuclear disaster"), Martin Gross makes numerous inaccurate, uninformed and inflammatory assertions about security at nuclear power plants.

For example, Mr. Gross' claim that nuclear power plants are "virtually undefended" against a terrorist attack is simply false. For more than 25 years, nuclear power plants have been required to maintain strong defenses against attacks. The security at nuclear power plants far exceeds that at other civilian facilities.

His claim that "our nuclear plants are no more secure than they were before September 11" is also false. In fact, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) placed the 103 nuclear power plants on the highest level of alert immediately after the September 11 attacks and has overseen the implementation of enhanced security measures in the subsequent months. Our licensees have spent many millions of dollars on additional security since September 11.

Mr. Gross' claim that I have thoughtlessly opposed the federalization of security at the plants is misleading. All five NRC commissioners have given the matter careful consideration, and ultimately unanimously opposed federalization because it would not serve the national interest.

There would be serious command-and-control problems if security were placed under federal management, while at the same time safety remained the responsibility of the private operator. These functions must be integrated. Moreover, the guard force at nuclear plants, in contrast to that at airports, is stable, well-trained and has served effectively.

Mr. Gross asserts that anti-aircraft defenses are deployed at French nuclear power plants, which simply is untrue. Although any decision about anti-aircraft defense must be made by the Department of Defense, the NRC recognizes the serious challenges surrounding the decision to attack aircraft. Just imagine the consequences if a nervous defender with an anti-aircraft missile were to decide to shoot down an airplane that simply had drifted off course.

Your readers may have been needlessly alarmed by Mr. Gross' irresponsible commentary.



U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Rockville, Md.

Racial profiling implies terrorism bears one face

As a frequent visitor to and friend of the United States, I was disappointed and dismayed by Diana West's May 24 Op-Ed column, "Delusional in D.C."

Her suggestion that racial profiling should be used to identify terrorists will do little to help understand September 11 or prevent the next attack. Most notably, it ignores the very nature of terrorism, which hinges on doing the unexpected. It ignores that, to date, the bloodiest terrorist acts in Palestine were perpetrated during the British mandate at the King David Hotel (July 22, 1946) and Deir Yassin (April 9, 1948). These were carried out by, not against, a Jewish terrorist group, which was headed by future Israeli Prime Ministers Menachim Begin and Yitzhak Shamir.

How would Miss West wish to profile them ethnically? Also, while she considers Yasser Arafat's "smell of perfidy," does she ever ponder what could make him think terrorism might pay?

Her column also ignores the fact that the bloodiest terrorist act on U.S. soil before September 11 was carried out by an American named Timothy McVeigh. What was his racial profile?

In fact, all her column does is provide fuel to those who would do America harm and consider Americans to be fundamentally racist, with little understanding or respect for others' history, culture or values.

Gilbert Charles-Pant


Stop being down on Europe

I read Wesley Pruden's May 28 column, "When the president has to button his lip."

I understand that Mr. Pruden may be irritated because there were demonstrations against President Bush in Europe, but this shouldn't be enough to cloud the judgment of a good journalist and shouldn't justify a knee-jerk reaction that is just as immature as the anti-globalization, anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-capitalism European communist demonstrators.

Mr. Pruden misses a few points about Europe:

• The great majority of Europeans are neither anti-Semitic nor anti-American.

• The demonstrators you see on television have nothing to do with average Europeans. Most of them are young communist idiots who don't understand the issues and romantically like to think that they're carrying on a revolution.

• The contempt for the United States in general and Mr. Bush in particular that you find in the European press is limited to the left-wing press which, unfortunately, is the mainstream press but it is no different from the contempt that the U.S. media have for Bush and, again, doesn't reflect what average Europeans think.

• The idea that "the best Europeans are [in the United States]" is ridiculous. Some good Europeans have gone to the United States; some equally good Europeans have stayed in Europe, where they are happy to be. Some bad Europeans have gone to the United States; some bad Europeans have stayed in Europe.

• Saying that in Europe are left the Europeans whose grandparents missed the boat is gratuitous and insulting, both to Europeans and to Mr. Pruden's own intelligence.

I would like to suggest that the next time Mr. Pruden is angry at something he sees on television or reads in the papers, he should count to 10, drink a nice cup of hot camomile tea and then write a column.


Appiano Gentile, Italy

U.S. could broker Kashmir crisis

You correctly point out that ominous signs of war are looming on the subcontinent and that only through painful compromises, especially on Kashmir, can India and Pakistan defuse the ticking nuclear time bomb ("Too close to war," Editorial, May 28).

Retrospectively, former President Clinton was correct in his description of Kashmir as "the most dangerous place on Earth," even though some found his remarks disdainful and akin to interference in the internal affairs of two foreign countries. For too long, both India and Pakistan have used Kashmir as a cause to placate religious fanaticism or on which to build artificial pluralistic "democracy." Sadly, both have failed, as shown by the recent upswing of militancy in Pakistan and communal violence in India.

India's hoodwinking on holding "free and fair" elections for the past 40 years in its section of Kashmir has failed miserably, as has Pakistan's jihad policy. India has good reasons for its current anger. Belligerency and bellicosity, however, are not solutions to what in reality are political problems. The world community and India cannot remain impervious to the fact that, despite Pakistan's culpability in stoking the anti-insurgency in Kashmir, Kashmir's self-determination cannot be crushed behind the charade of fighting terrorism.

After three wars between these arch foes, those who still think Kashmir is not a sine qua non for a stable south Asia and normal Indo-Pakistani relations are living in a fantasy. The two sides need to talk, not fight. They really do need a neutral arbiter and mediator, perhaps the United States.


Lake Ridge, Va.

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