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Ban All Nuclear Weapons

June 12, 2008

The New York Times published this letter in its online edition on June 11 (
June 11, 2008

Ban All Nuclear Weapons

To the Editor:

Re “2 Leaders Ousted From Air Force in Atomic Errors” (front page, June 6):

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates did the right thing by holding the Air Force secretary and chief of staff accountable for failures to secure American nuclear weapons properly. While that’s reassuring, it only postpones the kind of catastrophe that is waiting to happen as long as any country, including the United States, possesses nuclear weapons.

The trail of “broken arrows” — significant accidents involving nuclear weapons — can be traced back to February 1950, when a B-36 bomber dropped a nuclear weapon into the Pacific Ocean during a training mission and then crashed in British Columbia. Since then, there have been more than 100 nuclear mishaps, major and minor, all warnings that we delay the achievement of a nuclear-weapon-free world at our peril.

We can and must be as responsible as possible with the weapons we have, but the possession of nuclear weapons is itself an extreme act of irresponsibility. The sooner the world comes together around negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention and abolishes these most abhorrent weapons of mass destruction, the safer we will all be.

John Loretz
Cambridge, Mass., June 6, 2008

The writer is program director of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

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