Bush ‘Ready to Use Nuclear Retaliation’
By Tom Kelly, PA News, in New York
US President George Bush has backed the use of nuclear missiles in retaliation against an attack with weapons of mass destruction, it emerged today.
Mr Bush signed a document stating that America reserved the right to respond with “overwhelming force – including potentially nuclear weapons” if Saddam Hussein launched an assault with chemical or biological arms.
The classified national security directive replaces the phrase “all of our options” used in public documents, with “nuclear weapons”, to make the threat clear.
Analysts said the change in language indicated the Bush administration was more willing to use nuclear missiles than previous US governments.
For decades America has maintained a deliberately vague policy by using phrases such as keeping “all options open” and “not ruling anything in or out”, in order to avoid the word “nuclear”.
White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card said last week that the US would use “whatever means necessary” to protect its citizens, adding: “I’m not going to put anything on the table or off the table.”
But the directive, which was obtained by the Washington Times, clearly states that nuclear weapons are part of the “overwhelming force” that the administration might use in response to a chemical or biological attack.
“Because it is now official policy, it means that the United States will actively consider the nuclear option,” Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, told the paper.
“This document is far more explicit about the use of nuclear weapons to deter and possibly defeat biological and chemical attacks.”
In the classified directive, nuclear forces are designated as the main part of any US deterrent, with conventional capabilities described as a “complement”.
But the public version of the directive, which was released last month, gave them equal importance.
A senior administration official said the explicit mention of nuclear weapons gives the military and other officials “a little more of an instruction to prepare all sorts of options for the president.”
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