Washington (AFP) Mar 13, 2002
President George W. Bush said Wednesday that all options were open for the use of the US nuclear arsenal to deter hostile nations from threatening the United States or its allies.
"First of all we have got all options on the table," Bush told a White House news conference, "because we want to make it very clear to nations that you will not threaten the United States or use weapons of mass destruction against us or our allies or friends."
Bush was responding to a question about reports that the US administration had ordered the Pentagon to draw up contingency plans for the use of nuclear weapons against a wide range of countries.
According to media reports, China, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea and Syria were named as potential targets for US nuclear strikes.
The reports sparked concern abroad that Washington was adopting a more aggressive nuclear policy. Bush, however, insisted that US nuclear weapons were for deterrence only.
He said "the reason we have a nuclear arsenal that I hope is modern, upgraded and can work is to deter attacks on America."
Specifically addressing the Nuclear Policy Review, a top secret document presented to Congress in January, and leaked to some newspapers recently, Bush insisted that it contained nothing new.
"Well, first of all the nuclear review is not new," he said. "It's gone on from previous administrations."
According to media reports, the Nuclear Policy Review calls for a shift away from the Cold-War posture of using the US nuclear arsenal to deter a nuclear strike from the former Soviet Union.
According to press reports, the review identifies new contingencies in which US nuclear weapons might be used, specifically "an Iraqi attack on Israel or its neighbors, or a North Korean attack on South Korea, or a military confrontation over the Taiwan Strait."
Top US officials including Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell have all denied that the review recommends new targetting of nuclear weapons and have referred to it as no more than prudent and routine forward planning.
Bush declined to comment on reports that the review discusses the development of a new generation of smaller nuclear weapons that could destroy bunkers containing stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction hidden underground by hostile powers.
Anti-nuclear activists say the devices would make use of nuclear weapons more likely.
Instead Bush stressed that his administration was committed to reducing the number of nuclear warheads and he had discussed the matter in talks Tuesday with Sergei Ivanov, the Russian defense minister who is currently visiting Washington.
"And we're in consultations now with the Russians on such a -- on this matter. We both agreed to reduce our warheads down to 22 -- 1,700 to 2,200," he said.
"I think it's the right policy for America, and I know we can continue to do so and still keep a deterrence."
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India Sees New Urgency In Nuke Abolition
New Delhi (AFP) Mar 12, 2002
Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh said Tuesday there was a "new urgency" in the need to abolish nuclear weapons because of a growing danger of terrorists getting them.
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