- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 12, 2002

ASSOCIATED PRESS
In a new defense strategy submitted to Congress yesterday, President Bush warned Iraq and other hostile countries that the United States is prepared to use "overwhelming force" including nuclear weapons in response to any chemical or biological attack.
The threat was contained in a White House document called the "National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction."
Presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer called it a declaration "of how seriously the United States would take it in the event that weapons of mass destruction were used."
"It's a reiteration of a statement that has been made previously, but this time, it ties it all together to make clear that the United States will indeed respond," Mr. Fleischer said.
The six-page strategy outline underscores long-standing policy that the United States "reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force including through resort to all of our options to the use of [weapons of mass destruction] against the United States, our forces abroad and friends and allies."
That passage intends to threaten U.S. nuclear retaliation as a deterrent to hostile governments, said senior administration officials who briefed journalists about the document Tuesday.
Administration officials emphasized that the strategy, developed jointly by National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and homeland security adviser Tom Ridge, is an overall statement of the Bush administration's overarching principles. Its timing, however, coincides with other muscle-flexing by President Bush designed to show Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein that the United States is serious about seeing him disarmed.
The White House document gathers into one comprehensive whole several doctrines for prevention, deterrence and defense that Mr. Bush has enunciated since taking office, including a commitment to boost programs aimed at containing the damage of any chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack.
The strategy said some unspecified states that support terrorists already have weapons of mass destruction and seek even more "as tools of coercion and intimidation."
"For them, these are not weapons of last resort, but militarily useful weapons of choice intended to overcome our nation's advantages in conventional forces and to deter us from responding to aggression against our friends," the document said.
"We must accord the highest priority to the protection of the United States, our forces and our friends and allies" from weapons of mass destruction, it continued.
The broadly worded strategy does not speak with any specificity to the priorities it asserts, nor does it assign them any budget numbers. Instead, those details were contained in classified directives, described as "substantial taskings," issued to relevant federal departments a couple of months ago, officials said.
The strategy's priorities will be reflected in the new budget Mr. Bush submits to Congress in February.

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