Letter: Y2K nuclear peril

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Now that we have all received the Government's booklet on the millennium bug, we can feel reasonably reassured that, give or take a glitch or two, we have nothing much to worry about.

Well, listen to the US Deputy Secretary of Defence, John Hamre: "Probably one out of five days I wake up in a cold sweat thinking [Y2K] is much bigger than we think, and then the other four days I think we are on top of it. Everything is so interconnected, it is hard to know with any precision whether we have got it fixed."

The Ministry of Defence, according to What everyone should know about the Millennium Bug, is confident that there is no risk of a nuclear weapons incident. We are not the only country parading these civilisation-busting weapons. Some 30,000 warheads are stocked or deployed around the world. No 100-per-cent fail-safe complex system has ever been invented. Only God knows the situation of Russia's nuclear forces or of other declared and undeclared nuclear states.

Failure of complicated and interconnected command and control systems could lead to false alarms and warnings of imminent attack, coupled with launch-on-warning systems and decision times of a few minutes.

The only way to be confident that there is no risk is to take all nuclear weapons off alert and preferably to separate warheads from missiles.

F C STARKEY

Pantymwyn, Flintshire

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