DEFENSE: A Great Mystery

From within Washington's secrecy-walled atomic energy councils, a rumble of dispute occasionally bursts into notice like a volcano's reminder of subterranean turmoil. Such a rumble was audible in Washington last week in the debate over whether the U.S. should build another reactor to produce plutonium, a radioactive element now much needed for compact, low-fallout nuclear weapons. Yes, said Congress. No, said the President. Underlying the conflict was the chronic tension between the Administration's desire to avoid needless expenditure and military leaders' nagging fears that the U.S. is skimping on national defense.

Over the past two years, the Joint Chiefs of Staff...

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