Page 4, 20th June 1980

20th June 1980
Page 4
Page 4, 20th June 1980 — Nuclear arms a 'must'

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Locations: Leeds


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Nuclear arms a 'must'

MY OPPONENTS really should not misrepresent the teaching of the Church on defence and nuclear warfare to the extent that they do.

John Gurden says that only nonviolent methods to meet aggression are open to us. That is simply not true. Pope Pius XII spelt out forcefully the duty of modern governments to organise effective defence against aggression. He said: "The community of nations must reckon with unprincipled criminals who, in order to realise their ambitious plans, were not afraid to unleash total war. That was the reason why all countries, if they wished to preserve their very existence and their most precious possessions, and unless they were prepared to accord free action to international criminals. had no alternative but to prepare for the day when they must defend themselves. This right to be ready for self-defence could not be denied in these days to any state."

As the only hope of effective defence against nuclear aggression is nuclear weaponry, Pope Pius XII implicitly recognised that these defence preparations must include the manufacture, testing and stockpiling of nuclear weapons when he said ' that: "Today war is no longer confined to engaged battle between armed men but has stretched to a point where a conflict is between peoples, wherein are mobilised all physical and moral energies, all economic and industrial resources. It is no longer a field of battle, the whole state is an arena of war and the weapons prepared are of unimaginable power. "The problem of national defence therefore takes on a new and increasing importance, and so does the problem of its solution. This is the reason why no nation that wished to provide, as was its. undoubted right and duty, for the security of its frontiers. can do without an army proportioned to its needs, which lacks nothing that is indispensable for effective action, ready and alert in case it should be unjustly threatened and attacked."

These rulings by Pope Pius XII have been reaffirmed by successive Popes. Total war has always been ruled out, but not selective strikes against military targets. On his recent visit to America the present Pope, in a clear reference to NATO, praised America's defence of freedom.

Turning to the other points raised by my critics, Terry Philpot says that the recently released civil defence instructions — contained in the Government booklet Protect nerd Surtile (HMSO), price 50p — are no defence against nuclear attack.

That is unscientific nonsense. These simple precautions, which include radio broadcast fallout warnings would greatly help to save an

additional 15 million lives, in addition to the probable 20 million who would survive if there were no civil defence preparations at all. These instructions are based on the advice of Government scientists in the Home Office civil defence division and are not to be dismissed with a wave of the hand.

On the question of radiation, I repeat that all United States warheads, whether tactical or strategic, are 'clean' of radiation and by its own decision civilian centres are off-limits to the United States. • In regard to nuclear superiority John Garden disputes my claim that Russia has a far greater. ever growing, nuclear arsenal. There is every reason to believe that Russia has a clear lead. As part of their strategic nuclear forces Russia has 1,398 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM's) and the United States 1,054.

However. the total number of Russian ICBM's is very probably imich greater, because experts strongly suspect that 1,200 "old' missiles, withdrawn in favour of newer missiles, are kept in operational readiness.

In addition Russia keeps a "float" of extra missiles, which could make up another 2,000 operational ICBM's on top of the 1,200 replaced missiles. The "float" is required to replace each ICBM when it e. periodically removed for servicing, or if it become defective. The question arises of why Russia needs these extra missiles.

The answer may well be that whilst United States ICBM silos are to be used only once — damage from blastoff makes it useless for re-use — Russia's latest missiles are ejected from the silo by compressed gas, and then the engines ignited, thus making possible re-use of the undamaged silo within two hours.

1 he build-up in other areas goes on cedselessly. The Red Navy. now the

orld's most formidable, is far greater than necessary because Russia is selfsufficient in vital raw materials, e.g. Oil, and so has no sea lanes to protect — unlike the NATO countries.

At the same time Britain and America have been unilaterally disarming. The United States Navy has been halved in size since 1970, when it had nearly 1.000 ships as against about 500 at present.

Most US Navy ships are old and would be no match for the nearly allnew Russian warships — she has 275 major surface warships as against America's 180 — which are generally faster and more heavily armed.

Russia launches one nuclearpowered submarine every six weeks as against the Western nations' rate of one every 11-14 weeks. Its submarine fleet is the greatest underwater Armada in history.

In Europe, if the numerically superior Warsaw Pact forces, growing in quantity and quality, invaded Western Europe. they would sweep across it within weeks. Most alarming of all, unlike NATO, tile Russians have a major capability for offensive chemical warfare and large stocks are maintained while their forces are fully equipped to operate in a chemical environment.

In a European invasion Russia would send huge reinforcements, only several hundred miles overland through Poland etc, whilst United States reinforcements would have to cross the 3,000-mile wide Atlantic.

As the Red Navy now dominates the Atlantic, most of those reinforcements would never reach Europe.

Whether there is or is not a threat, and the extent of defence needed, is a practical matter which should be left to the judgement of the individual Catholic; something which Cardinal Heenan clearly recognised, because he refused to take sides in this matter.

It is a cause for regret that this point appears to have escaped Cardinal Hume and the bishops, who in their 1978 peace pastoral called for unilateral disarmament.

M. Breheny Leeds.

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