WASHINGTON (AP) — Late in a life lived unnervingly near the nuclear abyss, William J. Perry is on a mission to warn of a “real and growing danger” of nuclear doom.
The 88-year-old former defense secretary is troubled by the risks of catastrophe from the very weapons he helped develop. Atop his list: a nuclear terror attack in a major U.S. city or a shooting war with Russia that, through miscalculation, turns nuclear. A terrorist attack using a nuclear bomb or improvised nuclear device could happen “any time now – next year or the year after,” he said in an interview with reporters earlier this month.
Perry chooses his words with the precision of a mathematician, which he was before entering the defense world in the mid-1950s. He played a central role in developing and modernizing nuclear forces throughout the Cold War – first as a technology whiz-kid and later a three-time senior Pentagon executive. During the 1962 Cuban missile crisis Perry was secretly summoned to Washington to analyze intelligence on Soviet weapons in Cuba.
“Every day that I went to the analysis center I thought would be my last day on Earth,” he writes in a newly published memoir, “My Journey at the Nuclear Brink.” He says he believed then and still believes that the world avoided a nuclear holocaust as much by good luck as by good management.
His views are remarkable, not least because they strike at the heart of the conventional wisdom about nuclear weapons that has been embraced by both political parties for decades. For example, Perry thinks the U.S. nuclear force no longer needs land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs, and can rely on the other two “legs” of the force – bomber aircraft and submarine-based missiles. ICBMs should be scrapped, he says, adding, “I don’t think it’s going to happen, but I think it should happen. They’re not needed” to deter nuclear aggression.
He also opposes the Obama administration’s plan to build a new nuclear-capable cruise missile.
Full article: Crusading former Pentagon chief says nuke danger is growing (Associated Press)