Letters to the Editor. Defense in space

Alex Gliksman has written an effective analysis of the problems regarding ``star wars'' in the negotiating stage we are now entering [``Gorbachev's emergence and SDI,'' Oct. 1]. Nothing is wrong with the abstract idea of defenses against nuclear weapons except in the present context of each power seeking advantage over the other. Gorbachev is rightly representing his country's best interests in resisting an anti-weapon weapon in which the US has the current lead in technology. It would help his claim of sincerity if he could be more forthcoming about Soviet efforts on the same type of systems. In the nuclear age, the cost of not putting all one's cards on the table may be total .

Gliksman leaves us with the concept that after the accomplishment of major warhead reductions, a defense becomes a logical necessity. Jonathan Schell has made the same case, though emphasizing that before such reductions, defenses can only be seen as part of an overall offensive threat.

If Ronald Reagan can understand what Gliksman and Schell are telling us, then he will give up his goal of overthrowing the Soviet system and allow weapons reductions to justify his dream of a defensive umbrella. Joel C. Taunton Los Angeles

Caspar Weinberger develops a very nice case for proceeding with SDI, which is to be expected from the US Secretary of Defense [``SDI: realities and misconceptions,'' Oct. 17.]

He makes consoling statements such as ``SDI does not create a new arms race,'' or ``a world free from nuclear threat.''

However, Weinberger never mentions that many top US scientists say SDI will not work. He doesn't mention that even if 95 percent of incoming missiles are intercepted (a good defense), the 5 percent that get through would destroy the US.

Even if the United States could create defense in space against nuclear missiles, how will that stop low-level missiles from being lobbed in by submarines off our coasts?

Or how about small nuclear devices of the future being smuggled across our borders?

Does Weinberger tell us that many star wars weapons can also be used for offensive purposes? This would scare the Russians into building more nuclear weapons of their own.

Finally, has he indicated the colossal financial cost of a full-fledged ``star wars'' defense? T. Gary Allen Laconia, N.H.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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