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Nuclear folly

Not only is the spread of conventional armaments around the world worrisome. So is the spread of nuclear weapons. Yet the US sometimes seems indifferent to the danger. Of immediate concern is the administration's authorization of the export of a computerized control system for use in a nuclear power facility being built in Argentina.

The point is that Argentina is unwilling to place the facility, a heavy water plant, and its whole nuclear program under the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Given that country's growing potential for building a nuclear bomb - and its territorial dispute not only with Britain but neighboring Chile - it seems short-sighted to take such a step. All the more so in light of assertive comments by Argentinian military officers since the Falklands war.

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Export of the item in question is justified on grounds that it is being sold to the Swiss firm building the plant. Why then not bring pressure to bear on Switzerland to demand the appropriate safeguards first?

Will the world wake up one day to find Argentina or some other country using or threatening to use the bomb in order to get what it wants? The possibility is no longer as remote as it once seemed. Yet what is being done about it?

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