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By PAT BASKETT NZ Herald 10-12-96


Nearly 60 retired admirals and generals from the nuclear states and those with a nuclear potential have called for those states to start disaming and dismantling their enormous stockpiles of nuclear weapons. "We believe ... that business as usual is not an acceptable way for the world to proceed in nuclear matters," they.say. Among the signatories to the plea is Major-General Alexander Lebed, former contender to the Russian presidency and one-time Secretaxy of the Security Council. The former soldiers and sailors have declared that "there is nothing incompatibje between defence by individual countries of their territorial integrity and progress towards nuclear qbolition. General Lebed is supported by other influential flgures such as IAeutenant-Gen- eral Lev Rokhlin who chairs the Duma .Defence Committee, and General Boris Gromov, former Deputy Foreign Minister. In the United States, signatories include the commander of the Coalition Air Forces for Desert Storm (the Gulf War) in 1991, General Charles Homer, former Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, General John R. Galvin, and General William E, Odom who was director of the National Security Agency from 1985 to 1988. Their statement is tantamount to an admission of a profound change of position by all of them with regard to nuclear weapons since all had careers in the military. It begins by emphasising the key role they played in safeguarding national security and expresses their belief that 'the continu- ing existence of nuclear weapons ... consti- tutes a peril to the safety and survival of the people we, are dedicated to protect." They point out that the recently renegoti- ated Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty failed to achieve anything more than token steps towards nuclear disarmament because their provisions apply only to, the weapons delivery systems and not to the, weapons themselves. This permits the United States and Russia to keep their warheads in re- serve storage. As a guide to progress and- proof that their aim is more than pie-in-the-sky, the generals set out three main steps to be taken. Stockpiles, they say, are exceedingly large and should now be greatly cut back; remaining nuclear weapons should be grad- ually and transparently taken off alert, and long-term international nuclear policy must be based on the principle of "continuous, complete and irrevocable elimination' of such weapons. The move by the generals, who are part of a group set up in 1982 called Generals for Peace and Disarmament, was made to support a similar declaration by two influential United States generals General Lee Butler and General Andrew Goodpaster. Commenting on the two statements, the Guardian newspaper said in an editorial last week "Those who spoke out against nuclear weapons before ... may be allowed a quiet smile now that their heresies have become so widely accepted,