Further Examination of the US Nuclear Arms Strategy

I enjoyed reading the article "Revamping of US Nuclear Arms Strategy Has Begun," Dec. 19; however, there are several points in the piece regarding Strategic Defense that I would like to clarify.

First, I take exception to the paragraph that states that "no nation hostile to the US can be expected to marry the difficult technology of a nuclear weapon with that of an intercontinental missile until well into the next century, if then." I'm sure that all Americans would agree that during the war in the Persian Gulf, Iraq was certainly hostile to our nation. As the United Nations inspection team discovered, Saddam Hussein's scientists were only about 12 to 18 months away from industry-scale productio n of weapons-grade enriched uranium, and were actively seeking the means to attach a nuclear warhead to an ICBM.

Secondly, the author incorrectly writes that "Congress this year voted to move toward deployment of a single-site anti-missile system ... total cost of building this system will be about $25 billion, according to Pentagon estimates." The fact of the matter is that the entire ground-based system consisting of six sites (including space-based sensors) would cost approximately $25 billion spread out over the rest of the decade.

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Lastly, the cost of deploying a Global Protection Against Limited Strikes (GPALS) system (which would consist of a constellation of 1,000 space-based interceptors, 750 ground-based interceptors and 50 to 70 space sensors), is estimated at $46 billion, not $50 to $120 billion as reported in the article. Col. Jeffrey E. Furbank Washington, US Department of Defense Is there enough Social Security?

In the column "For Baby Boomers, Just How Secure Is Social Security?," Jan. 24, the author misses the point. My observation of the situation leads me to believe that the problem is not Social Security, but budgetary politics.

The Social Security system appears to be quite substantially funded and is accruing a healthy surplus. Unfortunately, the funds are being used to pay all manner of general fund expenses in order to reduce the deficit and make it appear somewhat under control. The true problem is that when the baby boomers arrive at retirement age and the system starts drawing down on its reserves, there will be nothing there but IOUs. The question is: How will we ever pay retirement pensions with a general-fund deficit a nd a Social Security Fund deficit? H. A. Gardner, Goleta, Calif. To Russia with love

Regarding the editorial "How Best to Aid" Jan. 22: One United States sister city, Stevens Point, Wis., has not only sponsored a shipment of food aid to Russia, but has taken the initiative to deliver the food in person. The National Guard, courtesy of the state of Wisconsin, will accompany several volunteers and the shipment to the city of Rostov Veliky. The result: seventy tons of food for one town in Russia from one town in the US. Frances Beck, Stevens Point, Wis. Parents role in education

The editorial "Parents' Role in School Reform," Jan. 23, hits the nail on the head. Education has to be valued by parents - it isn't something to be dealt with during youth and then abandoned.

The crux of the matter, which the author pointed out, is the tendency to relate education and jobs. Society fosters the attitude that our worth and value are based on how much money we make.

Education should be aimed at raising our quality of thinking so that we can be effective participants in the local, national, and global communities. Cynthia Ainsworth, Salinas, Calif.

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