(Kyodo) _ The U.S. military plans to allow regional combatant commanders to
request the president for approval to carry out preemptive nuclear strikes against
possible attacks on the United States or its allies with weapons of mass destruction,
according to a draft new nuclear operations paper.
The paper, drafted by the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. Armed Forces, also
revealed that submarines which make port calls in Yokosuka, Sasebo and Okinawa
in Japan are prepared for reloading nuclear warheads if necessary to deal with
The March 15 draft paper, a copy of which was made available, is titled "Doctrine
for Joint Nuclear Operations" providing "guidelines for the joint
employment of forces in nuclear operations...for the employment of U.S. nuclear
forces, command and control relationships, and weapons effect considerations."
"There are numerous nonstate organizations (terrorist, criminal) and about
30 nations with WMD programs, including many regional states," the paper
says in allowing combatant commanders in the Pacific and other theaters to maintain
an option of preemptive strikes against "rogue" states and terrorists
and "request presidential approval for use of nuclear weapons" under
The paper identifies nuclear, biological and chemical weapons as requiring
preemptive strikes to prevent their use.
But allowing preemptive nuclear strikes against possible biological and chemical
attacks effectively contradicts a "negative security assurance" policy
declared by the U.S. administration of President Bill Clinton 10 years ago on
the occasion of an international conference to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Creating a treaty on negative security assurances to commit nuclear powers
not to use nuclear weapons against countries without nuclear weapons remains
one of the most contentious issues for the 35-year-old NPT regime.
A JCS official said the paper "is still a draft which has to be finalized,"
but indicated that it is aimed at guiding "cross-spectrum" combatant
commanders how to jointly carry out operations based on the Nuclear Posture
Review report adopted three years ago by the administration of President George
Citing North Korea, Iran and some other countries as threats, the report set
out contingencies for which U.S. nuclear strikes must be prepared and called
for developing earth-penetrating nuclear bombs to destroy hidden underground
military facilities, including those for storing WMD and ballistic missiles.
"The nature (of the paper) is to explain not details but cross spectrum
for how to conduct operations," the official said, noting that it "means
for all services, Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine."
In 1991 after the end of the Cold War, the United States removed its ground-based
nuclear weapons in Asia and Europe as well as strategic nuclear warheads on
warships and submarines.
But the paper says the United States is prepared to revive those sea-based
"Nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missiles, removed from ships and submarines
under the 1991 Presidential Nuclear Initiative, are secured in central areas
where they remain available, if necessary for a crisis," the paper says.
The paper also underlined that the United States retains a contingency scenario
of limited nuclear wars in East Asia and the Middle East.
"Geographic combatant commanders may request presidential approval for
use of nuclear weapons for a variety of conditions," the paper says.
The paper lists eight conditions such as "an adversary using or intending
to use WMD against U.S. multinational or alliance forces or civilian populations"
and "imminent attack from adversary biological weapons that only effects
from nuclear weapons can safely destroy."
The conditions also include "attacks on adversary installations including
WMD, deep, hardened bunkers containing chemical or biological weapons"
and countering "potentially overwhelming adversary conventional forces."