- The Washington Times - Monday, March 11, 2002

From combined dispatches
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said yesterday a classified Pentagon report reviewing U.S. options for the use of nuclear weapons was simply "sound, military, conceptual planning" and not a precursor to any imminent U.S. action.
Mr. Powell discussed the secret document on the CBS "Face the Nation" program after the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday that the Defense Department study outlined a contingency plan to use nuclear weapons against at least seven countries China, Russia, Iraq, North Korea, Iran, Libya and Syria.
The New York Times reported yesterday that the Nuclear Posture Review provided to Congress Jan. 8 also called for developing new nuclear weapons that would be better suited for striking targets in Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Syria and Libya.
Mr. Powell confirmed that the study had virtually eliminated Russia as a nuclear nemesis, reflecting the post-Cold War environment, and was focused now on the new threat facing the United States rogue states developing weapons of mass destruction.
"All that study said … is that this class of nations Iran, Iraq, Syria, North Korea are developing the kinds of weapons of mass destruction that should be troubling to all of us."
Mr. Powell added, however, that "we should not get all carried away with some sense that the United States is planning to use nuclear weapons in some contingency that is coming up in the near future. It is not the case."
"What the Pentagon has done with this study is sound, military, conceptual planning, and the president will take that planning and he will give his directions on how to proceed," he said.
President Bush's national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice, also downplayed the significance of the reports.
"No one should be surprised that the United States worries a great deal about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," Miss Rice told NBC's "Meet the Press." "The only way to deter such a use is to be clear that it would be met with a devastating response. That is the basis of this report."
The Los Angeles Times, in first outlining the official list of potential target countries, said the three contingencies listed for possible use of the weapons were "against targets able to withstand nonnuclear attack; in retaliation for attack with nuclear, biological or chemical weapons," or "in the event of surprising military developments."
"The report says the Pentagon should be prepared to use nuclear weapons in an Arab-Israeli conflict, in a war between China and Taiwan, or in an attack from North Korea on the south. They might also become necessary in an attack by Iraq on Israel or another neighbor," the Times said.
Mr. Powell denied the administration was recommending development of "new nuclear weapons" or further testing.
"We are not," he said. "What we are looking at, and what we have asked the Pentagon to do, is to see whether or not … we might want to modify or update or change some of the weapons in our inventory to make them more effective."
Reactions from some of the targeted nations ranged from silence or unconcern by governments to defiance by unofficial commentators.
Libya's African affairs minister, Ali Abd al-Salam al-Turki, told reporters in Cairo he found the report hard to believe.
"I don't think this is true," he said. "I don't think America is going to destroy the world."


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