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on Eliminate Nuclear Weapons

Back from the Brink;

Short Fuse to Catastrophe.
The cold, hard truth of the post-Cold War world is that the United States and Russia still court nuclear disaster. While talk of cooperation and financial investments has, for the most part, replaced the saber-rattling of the past, both countries still maintain thousands of nuclear weapons poised to be launched in minutes _ a status known as hair-trigger alert. This launch-on-warning posture means that in a time of crisis or perceived attack, the president of either country has only minutes to make the most fateful of all decisions: whether to plunge the planet into nuclear war.

Both countries are pursuing policies that increase the danger of nuclear war by accident or miscalculation. To compensate for its decline in conventional military capabilities, Russia relies increasingly on a threat to use nuclear weapons. The United States is poised to try to develop a National Missile Defense system. This would inevitably increase Russia's fear of losing its retaliatory ability, and in turn force it to rely more heavily on instant responses.

Ironically, at the highest levels of government, the United States fully understands this dangerous destabilizing effect. According to documents leaked to The New York Times (April 28, 2000),
U.S. Undersecretary of State John Holum offered Russia a quid pro quo: if the United States deploys national missile defenses, Russia can keep its weapons on hair-trigger alert indefinitely.

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