DATE=9/5/2000 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=ABOLISHING NUCLEAR WEAPONS NUMBER=5-46965 BYLINE=ED WARNER DATELINE=WASHINGTON CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The sinking of the Russian submarine Kursk points up the continuing problem of nuclear weapons and how to keep them under control and reduce their numbers. An article in a major American journal says it is time for dramatic action against the biggest threat to the survival of the human race. The author proposes the United States take the lead in bringing about the complete elimination of these weapons before they spread beyond control. V-O-A's Ed Warner reports his views and some response by other analysts. TEXT: "The Folly of Arms Control" is the title of the leading article in the current "Foreign Affairs" journal. It suggests the various efforts to stop proliferation and limit the danger of nuclear weapons are going nowhere. In fact, says author Jonathan Schell, the danger is increasing. At the moment, he writes, eight nations have nuclear weapons, but another thirty-six have the ability to develop them if they choose. The technology is readily available. When one country acquires the weapons, that provokes another to catch up. Thus, Pakistan follows India, and Iran tries to match Israel. Mr. Schell says none of the existing treaties seem able to stop this process. He adds it is hard for nuclear powers to keep other nations from acquiring these weapons when they continue to maintain their own arsenals. He concludes that a U-S president must finally come to grips with the problem and make the abolition of nuclear weapons a major campaign issue and then use all the powers of his office to wipe the plague from the earth. Nothing less than this will work, says Mr. Schell. A persuasive argument responds Joseph Cirincione, Director of the Non-Proliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington. He thinks Mr. Schell has accurately stated the dilemma of arms control: // CIRINCIONE ACT // When a country like the United States has 10- thousand nuclear weapons, it is very hard for us to argue with North Korea that they should not have one or that Iraq should not have one. Until the countries with large arsenals of nuclear weapons take serious steps to reduce and get close to elimination if not complete elimination, it is going to be very hard to stop other countries from acquiring these weapons. // END ACT // This spread makes the world much more dangerous, says Mr. Cirincione. Nuclear weapons had a stabilizing effect during the Cold War since they kept the two superpowers from attacking each other. That stability is gone: // CIRINCIONE ACT // South Asia is much less stable now than it was before the nuclear tests. There is a greater danger of war there. A terrorist getting a nuclear weapon is a tremendously destabilizing event. So whatever benefits may have existed by balanced arsenals of nuclear weapons during the Cold War are over. // END ACT // Henry Cooper is Chairman of High Frontier, an organization promoting missile defense. He shares many of Mr. Schell's concerns, but doubts that unilateral action by the United States will reduce the danger. He says complete abolition of nuclear weapons is unrealistic: // COOPER ACT // We have to have diplomacy, and we have to have active measures, including defenses of all sorts. We have to defend against terrorist actions that might try to smuggle nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction into the United States. We have to have defenses against ballistic missiles, which are the weapons of choice of many of the countries that would like to blackmail their neighbors and indeed us as well. // END ACT // Mr. Cooper says even if the United States starts abolishing its nuclear weapons, that will not influence nations that seek them for their own political purposes. He concludes a balanced approach is needed to respond to the current complex threat. (SIGNED) NEB/EW/RAE 05-Sep-2000 14:02 PM EDT (05-Sep-2000 1802 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .