The Japan Times / Kyodo News Service – 2005-05-03 07:53:52
WASHINGTON (May 2, 2005) — The US military is considering allowing regional combatant commanders to request presidential approval for pre-emptive nuclear strikes against possible attacks with weapons of mass destruction on the United States or its allies, according to a draft nuclear operations paper.
The March 15 paper, drafted by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is titled “Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations,” providing “guidelines for the joint employment of forces in nuclear operations . . . for the employment of US nuclear forces, command and control relationships, and weapons effect considerations.”
“There are numerous nonstate organizations (terrorist, criminal) and about 30 nations with WMD programs, including many regional states,” the paper says in recommending that commanders in the Pacific and other theaters be given an option of pre-emptive strikes against “rogue” states and terrorists and “request presidential approval for use of nuclear weapons” under set conditions.
The paper identifies nuclear, biological and chemical weapons as requiring pre-emptive strikes to prevent their use.
Pre-emptive Nuclear Strikes against Non-nuclear Targets
Allowing pre-emptive nuclear strikes against possible biological and chemical attacks would effectively contradict a “negative security assurance” policy declared 10 years ago by the Clinton administration during an international conference to review the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Creating a treaty committing nuclear powers not to use nuclear weapons against countries without nuclear weapons remains one of the most contentious issues for the 35-year-old NPT regime.
A Pentagon official said the paper “is still a draft which has to be finalized” but indicated that it is aimed at guiding “cross-spectrum” combatant commanders how to jointly carry out operations based on the Nuclear Posture Review report adopted three years ago by the Bush administration.
Citing North Korea, Iran and some other countries as threats, the report sets out contingencies for which US nuclear strikes must be prepared.
It calls for developing earth-penetrating nuclear bombs to destroy hidden underground military facilities, including those for storing WMD and ballistic missiles.
“The nature (of the paper) is to explain not details but cross spectrum for how to conduct operations,” the official said, noting that it “means for all services — army, navy, air force and marine.”
In 1991 after the end of the Cold War, the United States removed its ground-based nuclear weapons in Asia and Europe as well as strategic nuclear warheads on warships and submarines.
But the paper says the US has the capability of reviving sea-based nuclear arms.
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