Shooting plutonium into outer space

We all welcome the cooperative efforts by the United States and Russia to drastically reduce their excess stocks of bomb materials as outlined by the authors of the opinion-page article ``To Create a Safer Future, Dismantle Nuclear Arsenals and Foster Openness, Trust,'' Nov. 14. However, I sense a tendency for such cooperation to ``make mountains out of molehills.''

A US-Russian working group has been established ``to examine the options and reach a solution'' concerning the long-term disposal of plutonium. The authors quantify the total materials as ``hundreds of tons'' of which some ``500 tons of Russian bomb-grade uranium'' will be ``blended down to non-weapons-usable, low-enriched reactor fuel...'' I am encouraged that the remaining quantities, which must be plutonium, are of such small mass, certainly within the ``hundreds of tons.'' Perhaps it is feasible to launch this material out of the solar system.

Even a costly space shuttle could be dedicated and jointly manned to rendezvous this material with an orbiting solar-powered rail-gun. The probability of someone recovering them seems certain to be less than if it were secured long term on earth. Philip D. Jacobs, Richmond, Texas

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