- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 10, 2002

ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Pentagon has informed Congress it is planning for the possible use of nuclear weapons against countries that threaten the United States.
A classified nuclear posture review sent to Congress in January says the Pentagon is developing contingency plans for using nuclear weapons against countries such as Iraq or North Korea that are developing weapons of mass destruction.
[The Washington Times reported on Feb. 22 that the Bush administration is no longer standing by a 24-year-old U.S. pledge not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states.
[Washington is "not looking for occasions to use" its nuclear arsenal, John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said in an interview. But "we would do whatever is necessary to defend America's innocent civilian population."]
The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that the Pentagon is preparing contingency plans for using nuclear weapons against seven nations: China, Russia, Iraq, North Korea, Iran, Libya and Syria.
The nuclear review said that the weapons could be used in retaliation for an attack with nuclear, biological or chemical weapons or "in the event of surprising military developments," according to the Times.
All the countries mentioned except China and Russia are on the U.S. list of nations that support terrorism. In his State of the Union speech to Congress in January, Mr. Bush said Iran, Iraq and North Korea formed an "axis of evil" that threatens to put weapons of mass destruction into the hands of terrorists.
Pentagon officials have said publicly they are also exploring ways to modify existing nuclear warheads to destroy underground bunkers and other "hardened" targets that countries such as Iraq might use to hide chemical, biological or nuclear arms.
Past U.S. policy has relied mainly on the threat of conventional military force to deter the production and spread of weapons of mass destruction.
"By targeting these seven countries, some of which are new targets, the U.S. is increasing, not decreasing, the possibility of using nuclear weapons in its policy," said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.
A senior U.S. official said yesterday that the posture review is a statement of strategy, and neither represents a change in policy on using nuclear weapons nor makes their use more likely. It also reflects that "there are threats out there" and there long have been contingencies for dealing with those threats, the official said.
The classified report is not a plan for action, said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. The posture review also includes President Bush's plans to slash the United States' ready nuclear stockpiles by about two-thirds over the next decade.
The top Pentagon arms-control official declined to discuss the contents or details of the report. But Douglas J. Feith, undersecretary of defense, told the Associated Press that "the purpose and the effect of the administration's nuclear policy as embodied in the nuclear policy review is to make the use of nuclear weapons less likely."
Mr. Feith said the administration intended to accomplish this by developing a missile defense with conventional weapons that can be used over longer ranges and with more precision, and better intelligence.


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