Los Angeles Times

UC scientists’ nuclear sanity


Re “A race to make the weapons we hate,” Opinion, Oct. 24

Beatrice Fihn’s proposal for the University of California system to “permanentl­y disengage from developing nuclear weapons” by leaving its management participat­ion in the Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore national laboratori­es is misguided. In fact, the two facilities should revert to exclusive UC management. The inclusion of contractor­s like Bechtel, making these labs part of this country’s military industrial complex, was a mistake.

Excluding academia from the management of the laboratori­es would be a grave error because it would weaken the ability of scientists to speak up. Gone are the days when an associate director would tell some badgering federal official that he worked for UC, not the government.

Scientific independen­ce has been important since the founding of Los Alamos during World War II. The presence of and control by academics who provide critical analysis is so important to preventing a nuclear war. The slide over recent years to merging the nuclear weapons labs into the military industrial complex is detrimenta­l to world peace. Kathie Harine

Kingman, Ariz.

Fihn’s points in the article about the UC involvemen­t in maintainin­g nuclear weapons are well taken. But American possession of a strong nuclear deterrent allowed us to survive the Cold War intact.

Today, there is no assurance that Pakistan, Iran, North Korea and other nations with nuclear weapons will abandon them if we get rid of ours. And there is no assurance that the leaders of those nations will act appropriat­ely. Certainly we have no such assurance with our own leadership right now.

Everyone who has worked with nuclear scientists knows they are not warmongers. Furthermor­e, the labs also do great research (I am a former employee of one) that produces non-nuclear technologi­es of help to everyone.

Let’s not tar UC’s reputation for keeping us safe for all these years. Kathy Kaufman

Mission Viejo

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