Date: Tue, 9 Dec 1997 13:16:54 -0600
Subject: [BIOWAR] Nukes May Be Used in Chemical War (fwd)
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 08 Dec 1997 01:30:34 +0800
From: Wes Thomas <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: [BIOWAR] Nukes May Be Used in Chemical War
WASHINGTON (AP)—As fears of all-out nuclear war fade, the Clinton administration is shifting its focus on using nuclear arms to deter attacks on the United States and American forces with chemical and biological weapons.
Presidential Decision Directive provides the most
detailed assessment to date by the White House of the ways nuclear
weapons and the threat of nuclear attack could be used to prevent
rogue states such as Iran and Iraq from unleashing chemical or
We're all more attuned to the threat of chemical and biological
weapons, Robert Bell, a senior member of Clinton's National
Security Council staff, said Sunday in response to reporters'
The (directive) requires a wide range of nuclear retaliatory
options, from a limited strike to a more general nuclear exchange,
Bell said, and it makes clear that those options include a nuclear
strike in response to a chemical or biological attack.
Approved last month by Clinton, principal elements of the directive
were first reported Sunday by The Washington Post. In many respects,
the document follows longstanding policy on nuclear weapons, including
continued support for the nuclear
land-based missiles and missile submarines—and basic reliance on
nuclear weapons as a mainstay of national security.
The document breaks new ground by abandoning the concept that the
United States should plan for a protracted nuclear war that it could
win and by allowing an expansion of the list of potential
targets that could be struck in China in the unlikely event of war
with that nation.
We felt that the concept of protracted nuclear war never had a
great deal of credibility, Bell said. Such a possibility was
outlined in a 1981 Reagan administration directive.
There was an
anomaly, Bell said:
The president's own guidance to the
Strategic Command ... was unrealizable.
Senior military officers have warned that arms reduction agreements no longer make such a conflict even feasible, let alone winnable. As a result, Clinton ordered his reassessment last February.
Worries about all-out nuclear war have been replaced by concerns that an adversary such as Iraq might use chemical or biological weapons against U.S. forces. As a result, Bell said, Clinton's directive discusses in far greater detail than in past directives responses the United States should have available.
President Carter said in 1978 that the United States would not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states unless those states fought in concert with a nuclear power or defied the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iraq's suspected defiance of the treaty allowed the Bush administration to threaten Saddam Hussein with massive retaliation if the Iraqi president ordered chemical or biological weapons in the Persian Gulf War.
That was something that many people took to be a clear nuclear
threat, Bell said.
In April 1993, early in Clinton's presidency, the Joint Chiefs of
Staff issued a document called JP-3-12,
Joint Doctrine for Nuclear
Operations, which described the use of nuclear weapons in response
to attacks involving
weapons of mass destruction, which could
include chemical or biological weapons.
U.S. nuclear capabilities must confront an enemy with risks of
unacceptable damage and disproportionate loss should the enemy choose
to introduce (weapons of mass destruction) in a conflict, the
In 1995, the United States—along with Britain, China, Russia and France, the other major nuclear powers—reiterated the Carter administration's pledge against nuclear strikes on non-nuclear countries. The pledge retained loopholes that could allow the United States to strike back.
Bell said the 1981 Reagan directive on nuclear weapons policy barely contemplated the kind of chemical or biological attack from a rogue state that occupies so much of U.S. defense planning today.
We needed to be very clear in what we were instructing, Bell
There is more discussion of it, more ink, if you will, in
John Pike of the Federation of American Scientists, an arms control advocacy group, argued Sunday that the presidential directive represents a far sharper official policy shift than the Clinton administration would admit. The White House, he said, was bowing to strategies already set by the military.
What they are retroactively doing is attempting to realign national
policy with what the operational policy has been for some time,
The colonels and lieutenant colonels figured out what
they wa nted to do, and you've just now got the White House
catching up with that.