LONDON and Paris newspaper readers have been startled in recent weeks by two well-circulated pictures that seemed to symbolize the terrors of the cold war. Hanging from the neck of a dapper U.S.A.F. major was a set of keys. Next to him was a picture of the lock they fit on the control board of a Thor missile emplacement. The starkly simple marking on the switch: War and Peace.

The purpose of the picture was not to frighten but to reassure. Along Britain's coast there are 20 Thor squadrons of three missiles each, the warheads of most in position. But they cannot...

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