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Letter: Understanding the nuclear triad

Published May 19, 2017 6:12 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

I am increasingly concerned about the seemingly casual attitude some in senior federal government positions are displaying with respect to nuclear weapons. As George Will noted in his May 4 column, a Trump spokesperson commented, "What good does it do to have a good nuclear triad if you're afraid to use it?"

The concept of the triad was to prevent other countries from using nuclear weapons on us due to the overwhelming response we would provide. Using a "small" nuclear weapon to "teach a country a lesson" could result in world-wide nuclear warfare as the country or its allies respond.

Having "first strike" capability does not mean we would escape a nuclear holocaust.

When I was at NORAD I was impressed by the massive response we could make when the first (simulated) enemy launch was detected. It takes time for a ballistic weapon to get to a target, and the target country and its allies will have time to respond. It is also doubtful we would be able to destroy all incoming missiles to prevent a nuclear detonation in our country.

In 2006 the Homeland Security Council estimated a "small" 10 kiloton weapon striking Washington, D.C., would kill 200,000 people, cause illness or injuries in 90,000 other individuals, and spread toxic fallout over 3,000 square miles. Unless attacked, I cannot imagine any rational person would want to run the risk of such results by "using" our nuclear triad.

We must have rational decision-makers who appreciate the disastrous results that will occur if we were to use a portion of our nuclear triad as a commentary.

Royce Moser, Jr. M.D., MPH (Col., USAF, MC, ret.)

Salt Lake City




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