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Pentagon recommends use of nuclear weapons

Wednesday, September 19, 2001 at 09:30 JST WASHINGTON The Defense Department has recommended to President George W Bush the use of tactical nuclear weapons as a military option to retaliate for last week's terrorist attacks in the United States, diplomatic sources said Tuesday.

It is unknown whether Bush has made any decision. But military analysts said the president is unlikely to opt for the use of nuclear weapons because doing so would generate rebuke from the international community and could even trigger revenge from the enemy involving weapons of mass destruction.

But the Pentagon's suggestion shows the determination of U.S. officials to retaliate for the first massive terrorist attacks on the U.S. mainland, the analysts said.

The recommendation appears intended to deter terrorists, they said.

On ABC television's THIS WEEK program Sunday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld refused to rule out the use of tactical nuclear weapons. He avoided clearly answering a simple question on whether their use can be ruled out. To a similar question, a Pentagon official also replied, "We will not discuss operational and intelligence matters."

According to the diplomatic sources, the Pentagon recommended using tactical nuclear weapons shortly after it became known that an unprecedented number of civilian casualties resulted from the terrorist attacks.

On Sept 11, hijackers seized four commercial U.S. aircraft. Two of the planes slammed into the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center, while a third hit the Pentagon near Washington. The fourth plane crashed outside Pittsburgh. More than 5,000 people were left dead or missing in the attacks.

Tactical nuclear weapons have been developed to attack very specific targets. The military analysts said Pentagon officials are apparently thinking of using weapons that can reach and destroy terrorists hiding in an underground shelter, limiting damage to non-targets.

In 1986, the U.S. conducted an air raid on Libya, attempting to target Col. Muammar Qaddafi. In 1998, Washington fired a cruise missile into Afghanistan in an attempt to kill Osama bin Laden, whom the U.S. sees as behind last week's terrorist attacks.

The analysts said that since these attempts failed, it may be assumed that U.S. officials are mulling the use of tactical nuclear weapons, which can cause much greater destruction.

Declassified official documents show that since the mid-1990s, the U.S. has indicated that it does not rule out the use of nuclear weapons if a country attacks the U.S., its allies, or its forces with chemical or biological weapons. (Kyodo News)

-- Martin Thompson (, September 19, 2001


Why not go back to good ol' napalm? Burn the bugers out of their holes.

-- Buck (, September 20, 2001.

Napalm is illegal under a Chemical Weapons treaty that the US finally acceded to, so using napalm would be a war crime. AFAIK Bush has not pulled out of this particular treaty (yet?).

-- Barb Knox (, September 20, 2001.

I LOVE the SMELL of NAPALM in the Morning!!!

-- Pork Tipped Bullets (, September 20, 2001.

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