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The Wall Street Journal, "This "Nuclear-Free" Plan Would Effect the Opposite."

In this letter to the Editor, Mr. Rowen--a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution who served in the Kennedy, Johnson, Reagan and Bush 41 administrations--objects to the inclusion of nuclear fuel assurances in the Nunn-Kissinger-Shultz-Perry "Nuclear-Free" plan. This letter is also available on The Wall Street Journal website.

Jan 17, 2008
AUTHOR: Henry S. Rowen
This Nuclear-Free Plan Would Effect the Opposite (PDF) 14.54 KB

This 'Nuclear-Free' Plan Would Effect the Opposite

Through some confusion at the Hoover Institution, my name was associated with the Jan. 15 op-ed "Toward a Nuclear-Free World" by George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger and Sam Nunn, with which I disagree in part.

The statement's virtues are significant, especially in calling for increased warning and decision time for the launch of nuclear missiles and for discarding plans for massive attacks left over from the Cold War.

The offending part is that on nuclear fuel assurances, to wit: the "advanced nuclear countries should provide reliable supplies of nuclear fuel, reserves of enriched uranium, infrastructure assistance, financing and spent fuel management . . ." However, in the name of not spreading "the means to make nuclear weapons . . . around the globe," it would do just that.

There is a sense that Arab fear of Iran's nuclear weapons, along with lower confidence in U.S. protection, is causing some of them to want the bomb. These governments understand that the way to do this is to follow the traditional path of building reactors for ostensible civilian purposes because the line between civilian and military uses is thin. Moreover, the economics of nuclear electric power in these countries ranges from bad to atrocious. Making big power reactors is hard and lengthy work; our subsidizing their infrastructure and fuel would not only foster uneconomic power systems, it would speed the creation of easy weapons options.

Nor does the statement obligate recipients to refrain from going to the brink of having nuclear weapons with or without the materials supplied by the "advanced nuclear countries."

The U.S government has a lot of work to do regarding Iran and the stability of the Persian Gulf, but helping countries to get the bomb is not one of them.

Henry S. Rowen
Senior Fellow
The Hoover Institution
Assistant Secretary of Defense, 1989-91
Stanford, Calif.

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