- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 16, 2002

From combined dispatches
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said yesterday that U.S. policy on the use of nuclear arms had not changed, despite a Pentagon review that raised the prospect of using atomic weapons in a wide range of conflicts.
"We have not changed our policy," Mr. Powell said in an interview with the Associated Press when asked about a 1978 U.S. pledge not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states.
President Bush's denunciation of Iran, Iraq and North Korea as an "axis of evil" and the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism already had raised chances of using American military power generally.
Mr. Bush said at a news conference Wednesday he was leaving "all options on the table" as the Pentagon reworked its nuclear-weapons policy to deter any attack on the United States, including from non-nuclear states such as Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria.
The 1978 pledge was made by the Carter administration and reaffirmed, most recently, by the Clinton administration in 1995.
Despite both pledges, U.S. officials have never ruled out the use of nuclear weapons a position reflected in Mr. Bush's remarks.
In an interview with The Washington Times last month, John Bolton, undersecretary of state for international security and arms control, said about the 1978 pledge: "We are just not into theoretical assertions that other administrations have made."
Washington is "not looking for occasions to use" its nuclear arsenal, but "we would do whatever is necessary to defend America's innocent civilian population," Mr. Bolton said.
In case of an attack on the United States, "we would have to do what is appropriate under the circumstances, and the classic formulation of that is, we are not ruling anything in and we are not ruling anything out," Mr. Bolton said.
In 1978, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance made the following statement on behalf of President Carter:
"The United States will not use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear-weapon state party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty or any comparable internationally binding commitment not to acquire nuclear explosive devices, except in the case of an attack on the United States, its territories or armed forces, or its allies, by such a state allied to a nuclear-weapon state, or associated with a nuclear-weapon state in carrying out or sustaining the attack."
In 1995, Warren Christopher, the first secretary of state in the Clinton administration, reaffirmed Washington's commitment. Along with the pledges of the other four permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, who are all nuclear powers, it became part of a U.N. resolution, which the council adopted on April 11, 1995.
But a year later, Defense Secretary William Perry said the United States would not hesitate to retaliate with nuclear weapons to an attack with chemical or biological weapons.
"If some nation were to attack the United States with chemical weapons, they have to fear the consequences of a response from any weapon in our inventory. … We could have a devastating response without use of nuclear weapons, but we would not forswear that possibility."

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