The Safe Way to Handle Nuclear and Chemical Weapons

Article excerpt

Frank Gaffney Jr.'s March 26 column, "No secure day on the beach," accuses two pending arms-control agreements of causing "grievous harm" to American interests.

His views on a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty are more fitting for a nuclear winter than a day on the beach, claiming a test ban harms the United States more than nuclear aspirants. Our more than 1,000 nuclear tests have helped us refine a weapon at first so cumbersome that a trench was dug to load a bomb dubbed "Fat Man" onto a plane. The test-ban treaty will help prevent the development and spread of weapons that can be delivered in a suitcase.

For weapons that can be delivered in a lunchpail, the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) will increase the risks, costs and difficulty of acquiring poison gas. It requires the destruction and bans the development, production and stockpiling of chemical weapons. But Mr. Gaffney objects to the CWC on the grounds that it robs us of our ability to retaliate with chemical weapons. Retaliation in kind has been rejected as a military option. That was a decision first made by the Pentagon during the Bush administration and reaffirmed this week by Defense Secretary William Perry in Senate testimony. …