- The Washington Times - Friday, January 31, 2003

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 (UPI) — President Bush signed a secret order last September that allows for the use of nuclear weapons in response to biological or chemical attacks, the Washington Times reported Friday.

The order apparently changes the decades-old U.S. policy of deliberate ambiguity about what the United States might do in response to such an attack, the newspaper said.

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The Times quoted the document as saying, "The United States will continue to make clear that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force — including potentially nuclear weapons — to the use of (weapons of mass destruction) against the United States, our forces abroad, and friends and allies."

The statement was contained in National Security Presidential Directive 17, set out last Sept. 14.

A modified version of the document was released last Dec. 11 and closely parallels the classified version, but changed the phrase "including potentially nuclear weapons" to "including through resort to all of our options."

The White House declined to comment on the document, the newspaper said.

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