Diverse group closes ranks to oppose MX deployment

A net loss of national security will be one of the results of deploying the MX missile system, according to Western opponents of the nuclear weapons. they are parading their opposition by means of the Great Plains/Rocky Mountain MX Road Show, presently touring eight Montana cities.

Members of the road show include a retired Marine Corps major general, a Methodist minister, a rancher, a law professor, and a mother of four. They have fought for two years against plans to locate the missiles in Utah and Nevada's Great Basin desert valley.

Road show speakers include those who oppose any development of the missile, and others who focus their doubts on the proposed land-based deployment. Their arguments are based on economic, defense, environmental, and social concerns.

According to Nevada resident Joe Griggs, who brought th road show here last week, a broad coalition of opponents is springing up. Citizens usually on opposite sides of the fence are joining hands: ranchers and environmentalists, military experts and antinuclear activists, snowmobilers and backpackers, small-town residents and urban dwellers.

"Opposition would not have developed if it had not been possible to demonstrate with the help of defense experts that the MX proposal would result in a net loss of security for the nation," Mr. Griggs asserts. He is involved in several legal actions intended to stop the MX, initiated by the Great Basin MX Alliance Legal Defense Fund.

The Rev. Stephen Sidorak, a Methodist minister and founder of a clergy group opposed to the MX, says the weapon is a part of a new generation of nuclear weapons that reflect a shift in governmental policy.

Deploying the MX would put the world at a turning point in the arms race, according to Mr. Sidorak, because it is designed as a potential first strike or counterforce weapon with the accuracy and power to destroy enemy missiles in hardened silos. Each missile would have 10 independently targetable warheads, each many times as powerful as the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

"What we witness now is the US preparing no longer to deter nuclear war, but to fight nuclear war," claims Sidorak.

Kayleen Bundy, a mother of four and member of the Southern Utah MX Coalition, describes how most of the residents of the Great Basin area were exposed to the radioactive fallout from the open-air nuclear bomb testing in Nevada in the 1950 s and '60s. "Little did we know the dust was deadly," she comments. She says their experience with the Atomic Energy Commission has led residents to question Air Force assertions about the effects of locating the MX in Utah.

"We listened to the Air Force and studied the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and recognized a wolf in sheep's clothing," she charges.

Dr. Edwin Firmage, a professor of international law and arms control expert at the University of Utah, describes the MX as an "arms controller's nightmare." He suggests that deployment would lead to a massive escalation of the arms race. The targeting accuracy of the MX missiles would cause the Soviets to perceive their existing missiles as vulnerable, he says, and this could lead to an all-out arms race.

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