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by Michel Chossudovsky
Saturday, Nov. 04, 2006 at 5:57 PM
Will the US launch "Mini-nukes" against Iran in Retaliation for Tehran's "Non-compliance"?
by Michel Chossudovsky
February 22, 2006
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Part I of this text was published as a separate article entitled:
The Dangers of a Middle East Nuclear War
New Pentagon Doctrine: Mini-Nukes are "Safe for the Surrounding Civilian Population"
by Michel Chossudovsky
"We have discovered the most terrible bomb in the history of the world. It may be the fire destruction prophesied in the Euphrates Valley Era, after Noah and his fabulous Ark.... This weapon is to be used against Japan ... [We] will use it so that military objectives and soldiers and sailors are the target and not women and children. Even if the Japs are savages, ruthless, merciless and fanatic, we as the leader of the world for the common welfare cannot drop that terrible bomb on the old capital or the new. ... The target will be a purely military one... It seems to be the most terrible thing ever discovered, but it can be made the most useful."
(President Harry S. Truman, Diary, July 25, 1945)
"The World will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians.." (President Harry S. Truman in a radio speech to the Nation, August 9, 1945).
[Note: the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945; the Second on Nagasaki, on August 9, on the same day as Truman's radio speech to the Nation]
(Listen to Excerpt of his speech, Hiroshima audio video)
At no point since the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945, has humanity been closer to the unthinkable, a nuclear holocaust which could potentially spread, in terms of radioactive fallout, over a large part of the Middle East.
All the safeguards of the Cold War era, which categorized the nuclear bomb as "a weapon of last resort" have been scrapped. "Offensive" military actions using nuclear warheads are now described as acts of "self-defense".
The distinction between tactical nuclear weapons and the conventional battlefield arsenal has been blurred. America's new nuclear doctrine is based on "a mix of strike capabilities". The latter, which specifically applies to the Pentagon's planned aerial bombing of Iran, envisages the use of nukes in combination with conventional weapons.
As in the case of the first atomic bomb, which in the words of President Harry Truman "was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base", today's "mini-nukes" are heralded as "safe for the surrounding civilian population".
Known in official Washington, as "Joint Publication 3-12", the new nuclear doctrine (Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations , (DJNO) (March 2005)) calls for "integrating conventional and nuclear attacks" under a unified and "integrated" Command and Control (C2).
It largely describes war planning as a management decision-making process, where military and strategic objectives are to be achieved, through a mix of instruments, with little concern for the resulting loss of human life.
Military planning focuses on "the most efficient use of force" , -i.e. an optimal arrangement of different weapons systems to achieve stated military goals. In this context, nuclear and conventional weapons are considered to be "part of the tool box", from which military commanders can pick and choose the instruments that they require in accordance with "evolving circumstances" in the war theater. (None of these weapons in the Pentagon's "tool box", including conventional bunker buster bombs, cluster bombs, mini-nukes, chemical and biological weapons are described as "weapons of mass destruction" when used by the United States of America and its coalition partners).
The stated objective is to:
"ensure the most efficient use of force and provide US leaders with a broader range of [nuclear and conventional] strike options to address immediate contingencies. Integration of conventional and nuclear forces is therefore crucial to the success of any comprehensive strategy. This integration will ensure optimal targeting, minimal collateral damage, and reduce the probability of escalation." (Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations p. JP 3-12-13)
The new nuclear doctrine turns concepts and realities upside down. It not only denies the devastating impacts of nuclear weapons, it states, in no uncertain terms, that nuclear weapons are "safe" and their use in the battlefield will ensure "minimal collateral damage and reduce the probability of escalation". The issue of radioactive fallout is barely acknowledged with regard to tactical nuclear weapons. These various guiding principles which describe nukes as "safe for civilians" constitute a consensus within the military, which is then fed into the military manuals, providing relevant "green light" criteria to geographical commanders in the war theater.
"Defensive" and "Offensive" Actions
While the 2001 Nuclear Posture Review sets the stage for the preemptive use of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, specifically against Iran (see also the main PNAC document Rebuilding America`s Defenses, Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century )
The Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations goes one step further in blurring the distinction between "defensive" and "offensive" military actions:
"The new triad offers a mix of strategic offensive and defensive capabilities that includes nuclear and non-nuclear strike capabilities, active and passive defenses, and a robust research, development, and industrial infrastructure to develop, build, and maintain offensive forces and defensive systems ..." (Ibid) (key concepts indicated in added italics)
The new nuclear doctrine, however, goes beyond preemptive acts of "self-defense", it calls for "anticipatory action" using nuclear weapons against a "rogue enemy" which allegedly plans to develop WMD at some undefined future date:
Responsible security planning requires preparation for threats that are possible, though perhaps unlikely today. The lessons of military history remain clear: unpredictable, irrational conflicts occur. Military forces must prepare to counter weapons and capabilities that exist or will exist in the near term even if no immediate likely scenarios for war are at hand. To maximize deterrence of WMD use, it is essential US forces prepare to use nuclear weapons effectively and that US forces are determined to employ nuclear weapons if necessary to prevent or retaliate against WMD use. (Ibid, p. III-1, italics added)
Nukes would serve to prevent a non-existent WMD program (e.g. Iran) prior to its development. This twisted formulation goes far beyond the premises of the 2001 Nuclear Posture Review and NPSD 17. which state that the US can retaliate with nuclear weapons if attacked with WMD:
"The United States will 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 United States, our forces abroad, and friends and allies." ... (NSPD 17)
"Integration" of Nuclear and Conventional Weapons Plans
The Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations outlines the procedures governing the use of nuclear weapons and the nature of the relationship between nuclear and conventional war operations.
The DJNO states that the:
"use of nuclear weapons within a [war] theater requires that nuclear and conventional plans be integrated to the greatest extent possible"
(DJNO, p 47 italics added, italics added, For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, Nuclear War against Iran, Jan 2006 )
The implications of this "integration" are far-reaching because once the decision is taken by the Commander in Chief, namely the President of the United States, to launch a joint conventional-nuclear military operation, there is a risk that tactical nuclear weapons could be used without requesting subsequent presidential approval. In this regard, execution procedures under the jurisdiction of the theater commanders pertaining to nuclear weapons are described as "flexible and allow for changes in the situation":
"Geographic combatant commanders are responsible for defining theater objectives and developing nuclear plans required to support those objectives, including selecting targets. When tasked, CDRUSSTRATCOM, as a supporting combatant commander, provides detailed planning support to meet theater planning requirements. All theater nuclear option planning follows prescribed Joint Operation Planning and Execution System procedures to formulate and implement an effective response within the timeframe permitted by the crisis..
Since options do not exist for every scenario, combatant commanders must have a capability to perform crisis action planning and execute those plans. Crisis action planning provides the capability to develop new options, or modify existing options, when current limited or major response options are inappropriate.
...Command, control, and coordination must be flexible enough to allow the geographic combatant commander to strike time-sensitive targets such as mobile missile launch platforms." Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations Doctrine (italics added)
Theater Nuclear Operations (TNO)
While presidential approval is formally required to launch a nuclear war, geographic combat commanders would be in charge of Theater Nuclear Operations (TNO), with a mandate not only to implement but also to formulate command decisions pertaining to nuclear weapons. ( Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations Doctrine )
We are no longer dealing with "the risk" associated with "an accidental or inadvertent nuclear launch" as outlined by former Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara , but with a military decision-making process which provides military commanders, from the Commander in Chief down to the geographical commanders with discretionary powers to use tactical nuclear weapons.
Moreover, because these "smaller" tactical nuclear weapons have been "reclassified" by the Pentagon as "safe for the surrounding civilian population", thereby "minimizing the risk of collateral damage", there are no overriding built-in restrictions which prevent their use. (See Michel Chossudovsky, The Dangers of a Middle East Nuclear War , Global Research, February 2006) .
Once a decision to launch a military operation is taken (e.g. aerial strikes on Iran), theater commanders have a degree of latitude. What this signifies in practice is once the presidential decision is taken, USSTRATCOM in liaison with theater commanders can decide on the targeting and type of weaponry to be used. Stockpiled tactical nuclear weapons are now considered to be an integral part of the battlefield arsenal. In other words, nukes have become "part of the tool box", used in conventional war theaters.-
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