- The Washington Times - Monday, January 27, 2003

Two top White House officials warned yesterday the Bush administration has not ruled out using nuclear weapons against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein if he deploys weapons of mass destruction against the United States or its allies.
White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. said on Sunday morning talk shows that the United States will use "whatever means necessary" to protect its citizens and the world from a "holocaust."
"I'm not going to put anything on the table or off the table," Mr. Card said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "But we have a responsibility to make sure Saddam Hussein and his generals do not use weapons of mass destruction."
Dan Bartlett, White House communications director, echoed Mr. Card's sentiments.
"What is clear and the message that President Bush has sent unequivocally is that if the Iraqi regime, if Saddam Hussein and his generals decide for one second to use weapons of mass destruction against allied forces of the United States of America and our allies, we will make sure it doesn't happen," Mr. Bartlett said on CNN's "Late Edition."
Their comments came two days after an article published in the Los Angeles Times claimed the United States was considering using nuclear weapons in a possible war against Iraq to destroy underground command posts and stop Iraqi forces from using weapons of mass destruction.
The story cited top U.S. private military expert William M. Arkin. According to the story, he said plans for using nuclear weapons against Iraq were being fleshed out at the U.S. Strategic Command in Omaha, Neb., at the Pentagon and at an "undisclosed location" in Pennsylvania where Vice President Richard B. Cheney spent time during terrorism alerts.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld signed in December 2001 a classified nuclear posture review that opened the possibility for nuclear weapons to be used against targets able to withstand most non-nuclear attacks. Countries such as Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya and Syria were added to the list of possible targets.
Defense Department spokesman Maj. Ted Wadsworth refused to confirm or deny the report, saying: "That's something that policy-makers have to talk about."
Yesterday, several lawmakers and policy analysts said they hoped the administration would not resort to using nuclear weapons to deal with the situation in Iraq.
Sen. Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Republican and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said he hasn't heard any discussion on using nuclear weapons on Iraq.
"Our policy is negotiation," Mr. Lugar told "Late Edition." "[Secretary of State Colin L.] Powell at the United Nations, bringing together the U.N., trying to get Saddam to declare, hoping the inspectors against hope will find something. All we're saying … Saddam has to realize he will be disarmed. He doesn't understand that. I don't think he believes it. And that's the critical point."
Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat and a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said the real test of the country's leadership is bringing the world together and resolving the issues in a way that results with the least loss of life.
"It's very chilling to talk about first use of nuclear weapons," Mrs. Boxer said on "Late Edition."
"And I wish we didn't go down the path. The whole world knows that we are the superpower, we are for sure the only superpower, we have an arsenal that could destroy every man, woman and child in the world 10 times over. We don't have to go around beating the drums for war," she said.
Pentagon adviser Richard Perle said on "Fox News Sunday" he couldn't think of a "target of interest" in a conflict with Iraq that couldn't be addressed with non-nuclear weapons.
"We have extraordinary military technology, weapons of great precision that have the enormous benefit of destroying the target almost all of the time without doing unintended damage to civilians," said Mr. Perle, a resident fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research in Washington.
"I can't see why we would wish to use a nuclear weapon," he said.
Several lawmakers said they would first want Mr. Bush to present evidence as to why military force against Iraq is needed.
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, said Mr. Bush has yet to make a "compelling case" that military force against Iraq is necessary right now.
"He hasn't done that," Mr. Daschle said on CBS' "Face the Nation."
"The president needs to make a compelling case that Iraq poses a very imminent threat to the United States and, secondly, that he has worked through the international community and exhausted all other options. Only if those two criteria are met does he have the authority, the license to take military action."


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