- - Wednesday, November 7, 2018


Congratulations to Robert R. Monroe for exposing the major problems confronting a much-needed upgrade to America’s nuclear-weapons stockpile (“Resuming U.S. nuclear weapons testing is crucial,” Web, Nov. 6).

He correctly notes that nuclear-weapons design is both an art and a science, dependent upon the intuition of experienced designers. Sadly those experienced designers are no longer employed, and neither are the staff capable of conducting underground testing. They, together with the facilities required to design, build and test newer designs, have been allowed to wither away following years of major nuclear cutbacks.

Having had at one time responsibility for the UK nuclear stockpile, I can confirm the concern retired Adm. Monroe expresses over the deterioration that occurs with age in the more than 6,000 components composing a nuclear warhead. Many of these were manufactured by contractors who are either no longer in business or have not retained the capability to reproduce identical items. Rebuilding current designs with remanufactured components but no testing remains a risky enterprise.

I believe retired Adm. Monroe is optimistic in his belief that a new test could be prepared in about five years. He may be right that a test to prove the functioning of a current design might be tested in that time frame, but it will be many more years before a much-needed new weapon could be available for proving and manufacture.

The truth needs to be faced: Our deterrent posture is in need of urgent reassessment.



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