Wednesday, April 7, 2010

New US Nuclear Policy Focuses on Terrorists, Rogue States

Via -

The United States on Tuesday announced a new nuclear weapons policy that gives top priority to fighting terrorism and proliferation, rather than deterring or responding to a nuclear attack by a foreign country. The policy promises not to use atomic weapons against non-nuclear states, but issues a stern warning for countries that ignore global non-proliferation rules. Initial reaction among experts and members of Congress has been mixed.

The policy document called the Nuclear Posture Review specifically says the United States will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in the nation's security strategy. It lays out a plan to expand conventional capabilities, to rely on existing stockpiles of nuclear weapons for deterrence against nuclear powers like Russia and China, and to focus on preventing terrorists and rogue states from acquiring such weapons.

In a rare appearance at the Pentagon, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the document recalibrates America's nuclear priorities, without affecting its ability to defend itself or its allies.

"For generations, the United States' nuclear deterrent has helped prevent proliferation by providing our non-nuclear allies in NATO, the Pacific and elsewhere with reassurance and security. The policies outlined in this review allow us to continue that stabilizing role," said the secretary of state.

The document commits the United States not to use atomic weapons against countries that do not have them and that are not trying to acquire them or spread nuclear technology or materials, even if such countries were to attack the United States with biological or chemical weapons.

But Defense Secretary Robert Gates noted that there is no such commitment for countries that do not abide by international non-proliferation rules.

"If there is a message for Iran and North Korea here, it is that if you're going to play by the rules, if you're going to join the international community, then we will undertake certain obligations to you. But if you're not going to play by the rules, if you're going to be a proliferator, then all options are on the table in terms of how we deal with you," said the secretary of defense.

Still, Gates called the use of nuclear weapons a "last resort.".


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