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Mr. Miller said the effort grew out of the recent four-year strategy review. Pentagon officials are “now studying the appropriate long-term mix of non-nuclear long-range strike capabilities, including penetrating and standoff bombers, cruise missiles, and conventionally armed ballistic missiles,” Mr. Miller told the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee.

The use of conventionally tipped, long-range missiles was opposed in the past by some in Congress who feared their use would trigger a nuclear war if states such as Russia and China misinterpreted any launch of a non-nuclear ICBM as a nuclear attack and they fired their nuclear missiles in retaliation as part of what is called launch-on-warning.

Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, who appeared with Mr. Miller before the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee on Tuesday, said he does not support a one-for-one replacement of nuclear warheads with precision-guided conventional bombs or missiles.

Conventional-missile strikes can be a deterrent to an invasion of South Korea by North Korea, but “we have to be careful when we start talking about one-for-one substitutions of conventional weapons for nuclear weapons,” he said.

“When it comes to the deterrence mission, not the warfighting mission necessarily, … the nuclear weapon has a deterrent factor that far exceeds a conventional threat,” he said.

Rapid global strikes with non-nuclear missiles would be “an additional weapon in the quiver of the president” during a crisis when only nuclear missiles are a timely option, he said.

“But the connective tissue between that and the one-for-one exchange for a nuclear deterrent, I’m not quite there,” he said.

The effort is expected to be outlined in detail in the Nuclear Posture Review the Pentagon is expected to make public next month.

Mr. Miller said the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty being negotiated with Moscow is expected to be completed in the next few weeks. It is aimed at cutting nuclear weapons to between 1,500 and 1,675 warheads and between 500 and 1,100 missiles and bombers.


Pentagon spokesmen declined to comment on the fatwa, or religious edict, issued several years ago by the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America (AMJA) that prohibits Muslims from providing food to U.S. and allied troops working in Muslim countries, such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

The fatwa by Main Khalid al-Qudah is dated June 20, 2007, and was issued in response to the question of whether a Muslim who owns a shipping company is allowed under Islamic law to transport food from a storage facility to a harbor, “knowing that these supplies will be sent to soldiers working in Islamic countries under the auspices of the allied forces.”

“That would not be permissible, for that would be helping others in sin and transgression,” the fatwa stated.

According to terrorism analysts, the fatwa highlights the shortcomings of the Pentagon’s aggressive “outreach” program to American Muslim groups over the past several years. According to critics, the program sought to win over the groups, but often included Muslims organizations with ties to the radical Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian group that has provided the ideological underpinnings for al Qaeda.

Patrick Poole, a counterterrorism specialist, said the fatwa indicates the Pentagon’s efforts to mitigate the threat from American Muslims through public outreach is not working.

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