Globe Reacts to U.S. Nuclear Plan


Filed at 2:40 p.m. ET

March 11, 2002

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia demanded answers, China said it was ``deeply shocked" and Iran likened the United States to terrorists Monday over reports that they had been targeted for nuclear strikes under a Pentagon contingency plan.

A classified report sent by the U.S. Defense Department to Congress outlined the possible use of nuclear weapons against countries that possess or are developing weapons of mass destruction. The ``nuclear posture review" identified seven nations: China, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Russia and Syria.

Explanations over the weekend by Secretary of State Colin Powell and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice that the United States doesn't plan to use nuclear weapons didn't satisfy Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.

Russia, Ivanov said, expects answers from a ``higher level" that would ``make things clear and calm the international community, convincing it that the United States does not have such plans."

If true, he said, the plan would ``destabilize and exacerbate the situation."

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, en route Monday to Washington on a previously scheduled trip, said he would ask Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for an explanation.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi said ``China, like other countries, is deeply shocked" to be in the group of seven.

``The U.S. side bears the responsibility to make an explanation on this matter," Sun told the official Xinhua News Agency.

Sun said China and the United States have an agreement not to target each other with nuclear weapons and said China's small nuclear arsenal didn't threaten any other nation.

``Countries with nuclear weapons should undertake unconditionally not to be the first to use them, and not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear state or nuclear-weapon-free regions," Sun said.

Iran -- tagged by President Bush as part of an ``axis of evil" -- offered an immediate angry response.

Government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh said the report showed that America would never observe international laws on the use of nuclear weapons, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

``The Islamic Republic believes that the era of using force to push forward international relations is long past, and those who resort to the logic of force follow exactly the same logic as terrorists, although they are in the position of power," Ramezanzadeh told the news agency.

Other countries named in the report were silent.

The Iraqi newspaper Babil, owned by President Saddam Hussein's eldest son, reported on the U.S. move without comment and officials said nothing.

Nations not cited in the U.S. report reacted gingerly.

Japan, the only country ever to be hit by nuclear weapons, said it opposes the use of weapons of mass destruction, but was otherwise tightlipped.

``We are not in a position to say anything about it because the document is classified," a senior Foreign Ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

Some world media also expressed fears that the plans could be destabilizing.

``The return of the nuclear nightmare in an age when the world believed it had escaped it makes clear the weakness of the United States not only to convince people about the rightness of their views, but also to properly wield the power they have," the Athens, Greece daily TA Nea wrote in an editorial.

The Times of London was more measured, saying the nuclear policy review was simply a theoretical exercise examining the circumstances in which nuclear weapons might be used.

``This is less Dr. Strangelove than the territory that comes with superpower status," the paper said in an editorial.
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Nuclear Arms for Deterrence or Fighting?


March 11, 2002

LONDON, March 10 - The Pentagon's new blueprint on nuclear forces has raised the question whether the Bush administration is lowering the threshold for using nuclear arms.

In its Nuclear Posture Review, the Pentagon cites the need for new nuclear arms that could have a lower yield and produce less nuclear fallout. The weapons, the Pentagon said, could be designed to destroy underground complexes, including stores of chemical and biological arms. The targets might be situated in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya or North Korea, a reorientation away from cold war scenarios involving Russia.

But the classified Pentagon review has ignited a new and vitally important nuclear debate. Unlike much of the arms-control discussions in recent years, this dispute is not over the number of weapons the United States needs; it is over the more fundamental issue of the circumstances in which they might be used.

Should the purpose of nuclear weapons in a post-cold-war world be essentially to deter a nuclear attack on the United States? Or should nuclear weapons be developed for fighting wars, including conflicts with non-nuclear adversaries?

Critics fear that by calling for the development of more effective nuclear weapons, the Pentagon is making the unthinkable thinkable, blurring the distinction between nuclear weapons and conventional arms.

The reaction overseas to the policy shift was predictably harsh, with a Russian legislator asking if Americans "have somewhat lost touch with the reality in which they live."

"Throughout the nuclear age, the fundamental goal has been to prevent the use of nuclear weapons," said Ivo Daalder, a foreign policy specialist at the Brookings Institution. "Now the policy has been turned upside down. It is to keep nuclear weapons as a tool of war- fighting rather than a tool of deterrence. If military planners are now to consider the nuclear option any time they confront a surprising military development, the distinction between nuclear and non-nuclear weapons fades away."

The Pentagon, for its part, argues that in a world full of unexpected threats and rogue states, it needs a broader array of options. It describes nuclear and non-nuclear weapons as "offensive strike systems" that can be used separately or combined in an attack. Such systems are a key pillar of a "new triad" of offensive, defensive and military-industrial resources.

"Composed of both non-nuclear systems and nuclear weapons, the strike element of the new triad can provide greater flexibility in the design and conduct of military campaigns to defeat opponents decisively," the review says. "Non-nuclear strike capabilities may be particularly useful to limit collateral damage and conflict escalation. Nuclear weapons could be employed against targets able to withstand non-nuclear attack (for example, deep underground bunkers or bio-weapons facilities). Nuclear and non-nuclear strike systems can attack an enemy's war- making capabilities and thus contribute to the defeat of the adversary and the defense of the United States and its security partners."

The review, though not a contingency plan for actual use of nuclear weapons , is meant to guide decisions about their role, development and deployment over the next decade.

Throughout the cold war, nuclear weapons had an enormous role in American military planning. The Pentagon not only built a formidable strategic arsenal to deter a nuclear attack on the United States; it also reserved the right to use nuclear weapons to deter a Warsaw Pact attack on Europe. The Pentagon deployed a vast array of nuclear arms, from ocean-spanning missiles to nuclear mines and depth charges. The Kremlin did much the same.

But as the cold war waned, so did the notion that nuclear weapons could be used to fight a war. The United States and Russia withdrew their tactical nuclear weapons from Europe and from their fleets. While Washington did not formally give up its option to make the first use of nuclear weapons against a Warsaw Pact attack, it cast the use of such weapons as a last resort.

With the end of the cold war, the need for nuclear weapons seemed to fade further. Arms control advocates pushed for radical cuts in the American and Russian arsenals and for taking nuclear-tipped missiles off alert, though hard-liners insisted that there was still a need for nuclear arms.

With the Nuclear Posture Review, President Bush appears to have a foot in each camp. He has embraced the call for deeper cuts in strategic arms, though the reductions he is seeking are probably not much deeper than the Clinton administration had in mind when changes in procedures for counting nuclear weapons are taken into account.

But Mr. Bush's Pentagon has also pushed for new and more usable nuclear weapons. At same time, it is working hard to improve conventional weapons. In effect, the Pentagon is urging the development of an arsenal in which nuclear weapons could be used against an adversary's non-nuclear forces, while promoting the development of conventional arms that could be used against nuclear targets.

The potential blurring of those roles, critics fear, would eliminate the firebreak between nuclear and conventional war. Some specialists also argue that it sends a message to third world powers that nuclear weapons are militarily useful.

"By emphasizing the important role of nuclear weapons, the Pentagon is encouraging other nations to think that it is important to have them as well," said Robert S. Norris, a nuclear weapons expert at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Today, senior Bush administration officials sought to dampen the criticism. They argued that the Nuclear Posture Review was a mere policy document, not an operational plan, and that the decision to develop dramatically new types of weapons had not yet been made.

"This is prudent military planning, and it is the kind of planning I think the American people would expect," Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said on the CBS News Program "Face the Nation," adding, "We are not developing brand new nuclear weapons, and we are not planning to undergo any testing."

Vice President Dick Cheney, who arrived in London late tonight at the beginning of a long tour of allied nations, "will put it in context and in perspective," Secretary Powell said.

The Pentagon review, however, clearly points to important changes by touting the need for new variable- yield or reduced-yield nuclear weapons, and improved targeting systems so they could be rapidly used in war.

"Greater flexibility is needed with respect to nuclear force and planning than was the case during the cold war," the review said. "Nuclear attack options that vary in scale, scope and purpose will complement other military capabilities.",3858,4371815,00.html
Bunker Bomb Will Bust test Ban

Julian Borger in Washington

Monday March 11, 2002

Months before the September 11 attacks the Pentagon was formulating a nuclear posture review, part of a nuclear-weapons policy that is almost certain to collide with the comprehensive test ban treaty (CTBT).

The review is the work of a group of radical defense strategists appointed in the early days of the Bush administration. They include Stephen Younger, a former head of weapons research at the Los Alamos nuclear laboratories who wrote a policy paper in 2000 advocating the development of a new generation of low-yield nuclear "bunker-busting bombs".

On September 1 he was made director of the defense threat reduction agency, responsible for anticipating future dangers to national security.

The other members of the team are Stephen Hadley, now deputy national security advisor, Steve Cambone, special assistant to the defense secretary, and Robert Joseph, senior director for proliferation strategy at the White House.

They jointly wrote a National Institute for Public Policy paper last year which echoed Mr. Younger's arguments, portraying a nuclear bunker-buster as an ideal weapon against the nuclear, chemical or biological weapons stockpiles of rogue nations such as Iraq.

Under the tutelage of Donald Rumsfeld, the new strategists argue that such a weapon will not deter a rogue regime if it is so big that the enemy can be fairly sure that the US will not use it.

As Mr. Rumsfeld said last year, the US nuclear arsenal would not deter Saddam Hussein "because he knows a US president would not drop a 100-kilotonne bomb on Baghdad".

Deterrence would only work, so the argument runs, if the US had "mini-nukes" it might actually consider using.

The nuclear posture review calls for development of these weapons to begin as early as next month, bringing forward the day when one of the new generation of tactical nuclear weapons will have to be tested, in violation of the CTBT.

Although the Senate refused to ratify the CTBT the US, which signed it six years ago, has abided by its principles. But Mr. Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz have made it clear that they see such cold war treaties as unwanted burdens of another age, preventing new strategic thinking.

"It is just a matter of time until they start testing again, and that's going to create an international firestorm," said Stephen Schwartz, publisher of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

Last year, the administration commissioned a study on how quickly mothballed nuclear test sites in the Nevada desert could be put back in action. General John Gordon, head of the national nuclear security administration promised he would work to improve their readiness.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)