Test Radiation Techniques Responsibly
It is understandable that reports about radiation experiments in the United States following World War II have generated concern among many Americans about the use of radiation (``Dirty Atomic Secrets'' editorial, Dec. 27). Was there a callous disregard for the rights of people who were studied? Who ordered the experiments, and why? Much more needs to be learned; a White House task force looking into the experiments has made a good start toward getting the full story.
From my perspective as a physician who practices nuclear medicine and uses radiation to diagnose and treat patients, the dominant issue is whether people who administered the experiments provided full disclosure to and got the consent of the people who were studied. If there was no informed consent, the studies were a violation of basic human rights that cannot be excused as some aberration of the cold war.
It would be tragic if events that took place years ago were to confuse and frighten people to the point that medical care and other beneficial applications of radiation are curtailed. Nuclear medicine is now an essential feature of every large hospital. Man-made radioactive materials have brought advances in every field of medicine.
In judging the early experiments with radiation, it should be remembered that without radioactive tracer techniques of the kind that were used in studies at a number of university hospitals over the years, the diagnosis and treatment of disease would not have reached their present state of development. Conrad E. Nagle, MD, Troy, Mich. Former President, American College of Nuclear Physicians
Nigeria's economic moves
Regarding the article ``Nigeria's New Leader Turns Back the Clock on Market Reforms,'' Jan. 12: The measures announced in this year's budget speech by Nigerian head of state Gen. Sani Abacha are not intended to abandon market reforms. They are designed to solve the immediate problems of the economy and make free-market reforms possible and beneficial to Nigerians and their trading partners. These problems include an intolerable budget deficit; decline in output caused by high interest rates; stagnation of employment; undervaluation of the local currency, the naira; and consequent inflation fueled by an increase in the money supply.
It is not true that ``a ban was set on movement of foreign currency into Nigeria.'' The government has merely decided that foreign exchange transactions should be carried out through the Central Bank or its agencies to neutralize the activities of speculators who lodge large amounts of naira in savings accounts to earn interest, in some cases at the rate of 60 percent. In view of this, it has become necessary to lower the interest rate to between 12 and 15 percent. This would also make it easier for prospective investors to obtain credit on easy terms to expand economic activities, provide employment opportunities, and increase production.
Other steps being taken to address the problems include decreasing government expenditure, enhancing revenue generation, reducing the budget deficit, providing financial incentives to productive projects, and improving infrastucture. Zubair Mahmud Kazaure, Washington Nigerian Ambassador to the US
Don't overlook Ukraine
The article ``Central Europeans Differ on How to Approach NATO and Trade,'' Jan. 21, states, ``the Czech Republic is the only Visegrad state not currently sharing a border with Russia.'' Wrong. Neither do Hungary or Slovakia. They share a border with Ukraine. Russians, to be sure, have trouble accepting the reality of an independent Ukraine, but why should Americans? Michael Roskin, Carlisle, Pa.
Radioactive waste danger lives on
In the opinion-page article ``US Needs Fresh Approach to Nuclear Energy,'' Jan. 31, the author states that it would be short-sighted and foolish to abandon nuclear power because now ``we have the ability to address virtually all of the concerns about nuclear power.'' Yet he does not address, nor can anyone yet, the most perilous obstacle of all: what to do with radioactive wastes with half-lives of thousands of years. Frieda Arkin, Essex, Mass.