Sentences not published by the Sunday Tribune are in italics.
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21st August 2001
The Sunday Tribune.
Harry McGee's article on the nuclear bunker in Athlone (Sunday Tribune, 19 August) reflected a common complacency about the possibility of nuclear war.
The danger of such a war is not, as he suggests, only remote, theoretical or infinitesimal. While the hostility of the Cold War may have passed away, the bombs remain in existence- possibly in the region of 30,000 nuclear warheads at the moment. While they remain, the possibility of accidental launch, explosion through a bomb being dropped accidentally, or use by a deranged or mercenary military commander continues to present a threat.
Furthermore, the recent addition of India and Pakistan to the range of nuclear powers increases the likelihood of nuclear weapons being acquired by countries whose policy cannot always be trusted to be rational. And who is to say what the political complexion of the Russian government will be in five or ten years' time?
The policy being adopted by the current United States government of jettisoning the treaties which have reduced nuclear tensions over past decades presents further possibilities of destabilising the world. One of their particular plans is the National Missile Defence scheme, which is believed to require the use of the Menwith Hill and Fylingdales bases in Yorkshire. If this goes ahead, England will become an obvious nuclear target, and the consequences of this for Ireland also could be serious.
Until nuclear weapons are finally destroyed - something which the main nuclear powers accepted as an obligation in the last revision of the Non-Proliferation treaty - the world cannot treat this risk lightly.
Vice-chairperson, Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
(tel. 01-454 0194)
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