Jan 31 Times of India
WASHINGTON: Supporting reports of possible use of nuclear weapons by US
against Iraq in case of a war, it was revealed on Friday that President
George W Bush has signed a secret document explicitly allowing their use in
response to biological or chemical attacks.
The US 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 US, our forces abroad, and
friends and allies," states the National Security Presidential Directive 17
signed by Bush on September 14 last year.
In the public version of the document, released on December 11 as the
National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction, the explicit parts
were left vague.
Instead of the phrase "including potentially nuclear weapons," the public
text used the phrase "including resort to all of our options," reported
Washington Times, which claimed to have seen the secret version.
A White House spokesman declined comment on the report.
A senior Administration official told the paper, however, that using the
words "nuclear weapons" in the classified text gives the military and other
officials, "a little more of an instruction to prepare all sorts of options
for the President" if need be.
The official, nonetheless, indicated that ambiguity remains "the heart and
soul of our nuclear policy."
In the classified version, nuclear forces are designated as the main part
of any US deterrence, while conventional capabilities "complement" the
"Nuclear forces alone...cannot ensure deterrence against weapons of mass
destruction and missiles," the paragraph in the secret document says.
"Complementing nuclear force with an appropriate mix of conventional
response and defence capabilities, coupled with effective intelligence,
surveillance, interdiction and domestic law enforcement capabilities,
reinforces our overall deterrent posture against (weapons of mass
destruction) threats," said the secret document.
For public consumption, the White House changed that paragraph to "our
overall deterrent posture against (weapons of mass destruction) threats is
reinforced by effective intelligence, surveillance, interdiction and
domestic law enforcement capabilities."
The classified document is known better by its abbreviation NSPD 17 as well
as Homeland Security Presidential Directive 4.
The new disclosures follow reports that planning for a war with Iraq
focuses on using nuclear arms not only to defend US forces but also to
"pre-empt" deeply buried Iraqi facilities that could withstand conventional
For decades, the paper notes, the US Government has maintained a
deliberately vague nuclear policy, expressed in such language as "all
options open" and "not ruling anything in or out."
It is evident in the language used by US officials.
White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, for instance, said last week that
the US will use "whatever means" necessary to protect its citizens and the
world from a holocaust."
But in the paragraphs marked "S" for secret, the September 14 directive
clearly states that nuclear weapons are part of the "overwhelming force"
that Washington might use in response to a chemical or biological attack.