Monday, January 27
The Nuclear Option in Iraq
The U.S. has lowered the bar for using the ultimate weapon
William M. Arkin, Los Angeles Times, January 26, 2003
WASHINGTON -- One year after President Bush labeled Iraq, Iran and North Korea the "axis of evil," the United States is thinking about the unthinkable: It is preparing for the possible use of nuclear weapons against Iraq.
At the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) in Omaha and inside planning cells of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, target lists are being scrutinized, options are being pondered and procedures are being tested to give nuclear armaments a role in the new U.S. doctrine of "preemption."
According to multiple sources close to the process, the current planning focuses on two possible roles for nuclear weapons:
attacking Iraqi facilities located so deep underground that they might be impervious to conventional explosives;
thwarting Iraq's use of weapons of mass destruction.
Nuclear weapons have, since they were first created, been part of the arsenal discussed by war planners. But the Bush administration's decision to actively plan for possible preemptive use of such weapons, especially as so-called bunker busters, against Iraq represents a significant lowering of the nuclear threshold. It rewrites the ground rules of nuclear combat in the name of fighting terrorism. .... (more)