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High Stakes for Membership in the `Nuclear Weapons Club'

Thank you for the editorial "Nuclear Cross Hairs," March 3, explaining how some third-world countries have chosen to stay out of the nuclear weapons club. But if the United States wants to encourage this trend - and to reject targeting nonnuclear countries with nuclear weapons - then the US must demonstrate that it is serious about taming its own nuclear ambitions. The US must quickly negotiate a multilateral treaty to ban all nuclear weapons tests.

Because the third world sees nuclear testing as the symbol of nuclear-power hypocrisy, a test-ban treaty is needed to prevent nonnuclear countries from rejecting the highly successful Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) when it comes up for renewal in 1995.

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President Clinton, who supports the NPT, says nuclear proliferation is at the top of his list. Let the president prove it by beginning test ban talks now so that voters - and third-world leaders with nuclear ambitions of their own - know that he is serious. Burton Glass, Washington Peace Action Education Fund The ethanol myth

The editorial "Now: Gas from the Cornfield," March 9, fails to address numerous concerns regarding the production and use of ethanol. Ethanol is a failure on many fronts.

First, the verdict on its quality from an environmental perspective is still out, and there are legitimate concerns about the degree to which ethanol increases smog in large urban areas.

In addition, the production of ethanol requires the use of coal, another non-renewable and polluting resource.

Second, what is the possible justification for polluting our soil, air, and groundwater with petroleum-based fertilizers, applied by tractors that use oil, in order to grow more corn to run more cars on already overcrowded freeways?

Rather than address the real problems facing farmers - which include agriculture programs favoring large producers and horrendously low prices - the ethanol myth merely finds a temporary use for our overproduction of corn. Ethanol distracts us from seeking and adopting alternative and truly renewable sources of energy, such as solar and wind, which could power us cleanly into the next century and beyond. Our vast nation has these and other renewable resources in abundance, but the longer we focus on turn ing food into auto fuel, the less we will be able to meet the clean energy needs of tomorrow. Ed Fallon, Des Moines, Iowa, State Representative Empowering Muslim women

I am astonished by the Opinion page article "The Emerging Role of Muslim Women," March 11, by Pakistan's ambassador to the United States. While she is absolutely correct that Muslim women have experienced discrimination and injustice over a long period of time, her comment that women are gradually becoming empowered is rather astonishing, particularly in the face of her own country's known statistics.

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With one of the lowest female literacy rates in the world (6 percent) and life conditions of extraordinary misery, it will take a long time to see any relief.

I am pleased to see that a growing number of young women are attending universities. However, if elementary education is not available or paid for to teach Pakistan's young women, how will poorer women go to universities?

Of course the ambassador to Pakistan wants to put her country's best foot forward in public, but she has her work cut out for her. Laina Farhat, San Francisco, United Nations Assoc. of San Francisco

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