Precautions Against 'Loose Nukes'

In the opinion-page article "Russian 'Loose Nukes' - a Myth That Distorts US Policy" (June 16), the author makes some excellent points with regard to safeguarding Russian nuclear weapons and materials.

But the $400 million he says we don't need to spend to help prevent theft of Russia's technology is small change compared with the potential disaster of even just a credible nuclear threat.

For example, providing funds to keep former Russian weapons scientists employed in productive, peaceful research has a number of benefits. First, good people are not forced to look for work making weapons for rogue governments or terrorists.

Sure, they can make more money doing that - but if they can do science and feed their families, they are likely to be content. Second, new technology can result from that science, as opposed to a PhD physicist being reduced to selling cigarettes on the street. Finally, the United States won't be soon forgotten as the nation that helped keep Russian science alive. I've never heard that the Marshall Plan was not worth the money, and this is a Marshall Plan for science.

Certainly Russia can safeguard its nuclear technology. But with its enormous and competing problems, our financial support assures that this one is addressed. Can we afford to not do everything we can to avoid loosing nuclear weapons on the world?

Leo M. Bobek

Worcester, Mass.

Director WPI Reactor

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

US aid to Palestinians, not Arafat

"US Doubts Its Role as Main Donor to Palestinians" (June 18) alludes to US leaders' and Palestinian citizens' disenchantment with "the spending habits of Mr. Arafat and his inner circle." The reader may infer from the article that US assistance is provided to the Palestinian Authority (PA), and I am writing to say that this is not the case.

US assistance to the Palestinians is provided principally by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). No USAID funds are provided directly to the PA.

USAID funds flow to US not-for-profit organizations and contractors like the Vermont-based Associates for Rural Development mentioned in the companion story "American's Tough Role: Democracy Salesman." These organizations provide technical assistance and implement projects that benefit the Palestinian people.

We require that these organizations have in place sound auditing and management systems before USAID funds flow to them. Each must comply with US government accounting and reporting requirements, and is audited on a regular basis by independent agents.

Jill Buckley


Assistant Administrator

Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs

US Agency for International Development

Dj vu for some readers

What a surprise to read "Rethinking Dual Containment of Iraq and Iran" (May 23), the Brzezinski/Scowcroft/Murphy opinion piece. I had just read it in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, where it was longer, and phrased differently here and there, but the same! Shouldn't you acknowledge it's a piece from another journal? How many others of your articles are recycled, unbeknownst to us?

Philip Dacey

Lynd, Minn.

Editor's note: Oops. The article you refer to contained in its footnote a sentence saying it had been adapted by its authors from their Foreign Affairs article for use in the Monitor. That note was inadvertently dropped.

Generally, we don't reprint articles from other publications. But on occasion we feel it is a reader service to adapt, reprint, or excerpt pieces of unusual interest that have appeared in specialized publications many of our readers may not see.

Richard Murphy and Zbigniew Brzezinski have been contributors to the Monitor for many years, and Ambassador Murphy adapted this article for Monitor use.

* Your letters are welcome. Letters should be mailed to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, faxed to 617-450-2317, or e-mailed (200 words maximum) to oped@csps.com.

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