According to a proposed "Doctrine for Joint NuclearOperations," US field commanders will have the right torequest pre-emptive nuclear strikes to prevent nations orother entities from attacking the United States with weaponsof mass destruction of any kind, whether nuclear or not.
Seperately, the CIA has issued an unclassified reportstating that "Al-Qa'ida and associated extremist groups havea wide variety of potential agents and delivery means tochoose from for chemical, biological, radiological, ornuclear (CBRN) attacks." (To read the CIA statement,clickhere.
This may mean that the US considers a pre-emptive nuclearstrike against Al-Qa'ida a viable contingency.
Dated March 15, 2005, the Joint Chiefs of Staff documentexplicitly states that only the president has the ability toorder the use of nuclear weapons, but it also says that theUnited States is not committed to a policy of withholdingtheir use unless attacked with them first, and that it mayuse nuclear weapons in a pre-emptive manner.
It also states that the specific actions on the part ofnations or other entities that might trigger the use ofnuclear weapons by the US will not be spelled out.
It makes clear that, once the president has confirmed thatnuclear weapons may be used, commanders then have the rightto alter their usage depending on field conditions.
It is probable that commanders have already got orders whichfree them to use nuclear weapons under certain conditions,such as if the US is attacked and the president becomesunable to communicate.
This new doctrine offers field commanders more latitude touse nuclear weapons than before, and changes the commitmentthe US made 10 years ago not to use nuclear weapons againstcountries that do not possess them. Now, the nuclear optionis open against countries or entities that possess or useany form of weapon of mass destruction.
It offers no explanation of how the US would know if a giventarget actually possesses such weapons. However, it islikely that a nuclear strike would erase any evidence of thepresence of WMDs in the strike area, making it unnecessaryafterward to offer proof that they were actually present.
According to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the new Doctrine hasnot yet become official policy. No date has been given, butit is expected that the policy will be adopted shortly.
To read the statement,clickhere. Please note that clicking on this link will spawn theAdobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not have the Adobe Reader,you can download it free fromAdobe.
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