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April 08, 2006

Hersh: U.S. Is "Looking Seriously" At Using Nuclear Weapons On Iran

From the article "The Iran Plans" by Seymour Hersh in the newest issue of the New Yorker:

One of the military’s initial option plans, as presented to the White House by the Pentagon this winter, calls for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, against underground nuclear sites...

The lack of reliable intelligence leaves military planners, given the goal of totally destroying the sites, little choice but to consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons. “Every other option, in the view of the nuclear weaponeers, would leave a gap,” the former senior intelligence official said. “ ‘Decisive’ is the key word of the Air Force’s planning. It’s a tough decision. But we made it in Japan.”

He went on, “Nuclear planners go through extensive training and learn the technical details of damage and fallout—we’re talking about mushroom clouds, radiation, mass casualties, and contamination over years. This is not an underground nuclear test, where all you see is the earth raised a little bit. These politicians don’t have a clue, and whenever anybody tries to get it out”—remove the nuclear option—“they’re shouted down.”

The attention given to the nuclear option has created serious misgivings inside the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he added, and some officers have talked about resigning. Late this winter, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sought to remove the nuclear option from the evolving war plans for Iran—without success, the former intelligence official said. “The White House said, ‘Why are you challenging this? The option came from you.’ ”

The Pentagon adviser on the war on terror confirmed that some in the Administration were looking seriously at this option, which he linked to a resurgence of interest in tactical nuclear weapons among Pentagon civilians and in policy circles. He called it “a juggernaut that has to be stopped.” He also confirmed that some senior officers and officials were considering resigning over the issue. “There are very strong sentiments within the military against brandishing nuclear weapons against other countries,” the adviser told me. “This goes to high levels.” The matter may soon reach a decisive point, he said, because the Joint Chiefs had agreed to give President Bush a formal recommendation stating that they are strongly opposed to considering the nuclear option for Iran. “The internal debate on this has hardened in recent weeks,” the adviser said. “And, if senior Pentagon officers express their opposition to the use of offensive nuclear weapons, then it will never happen.”

The adviser added, however, that the idea of using tactical nuclear weapons in such situations has gained support from the Defense Science Board, an advisory panel whose members are selected by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

The rest is here.

Posted at April 8, 2006 12:20 PM | TrackBack

...fudge (only I didn't say "fudge").

Juxtaposed against Bush's comment from yesterday, "I fully understand that the intelligence was wrong, and I'm just as disappointed as everybody else is."

The thing about "totally destroying the sites" is that, as in the old pirate adage: dead men tell no tales.

Posted by: Darryl Pearce at April 8, 2006 12:49 PM

military about, do nothing?

time and again I look at Junior's actions and I think, what if Georgie had done nothing the past five years, besides throwing the occasional baseball at the opening of a game or giving the occasional phoney-baloney uplifting speech? he could have

1.left the tax code alone,
2.not passed "no child left behind",
3.not fiddled with medicare,
4.Spent 60 days at a time on vacation,
5.and(oh yeah!) not declared war on anybody.

Of course, if he had pursued such a strategy, he wouldn't have caught bin Laden. But given how lame a campaigner Kerry turned out to be, I daresay he still would've beat him. And the Fox/GOP spin-meisters could've presented his executive indolence as Bold Leadership.

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at April 8, 2006 12:50 PM

Mr. Versen,
You remind me of the quadrennial presidential campaign. "Nobody will improve your life. Nobody will make the world more peaceful. Nobody will spend your tax dollars the way you want. Vote for Nobody!"

Posted by: hedgehog at April 8, 2006 01:54 PM

My gut reaction: World War III is coming; we're all going to die.

Posted by: anonymous at April 8, 2006 02:10 PM

These ideologues will have the entire world turned against us. It's insane, isn't it? Its like Iraq never happened to these people. They just proceed as planned. Reality doesn't exist for them.

Posted by: Hume's Ghost at April 8, 2006 03:24 PM

I often ask myself, why the hell does the military follow these guys?

Answer #1 is, apparently, maybe they don't.

Answer #2 is, never forgot, you have to brainwash a human being to teach him to kill.

Probably both answers are correct. Either way, I agree with anonymous: pants-shitting fear.

Posted by: Aaron Datesman at April 8, 2006 03:38 PM

When World War III starts I'm stoping payment on my check to GREEDY AND STUPID.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at April 8, 2006 06:04 PM

Mike, we're already stretched thin over Iraq and Afghanistan. We can't support another war with a volunteer army. When World War III starts, you'll be conscripted, if you haven't gone to Canada, if we haven't invaded there, too. Your taxes will be paid for you.

Aaron, I think although the top brass largely disagree with Bush and his minions, they want to avoid a court-martial, and aren't confident enough either in their position or their influence over their soldiers to stop listening to Bush and possibly cause another American civil war. Perhaps they think patriotism is adherence to the presidency, or perhaps they see a split in the military as potentially more damaging. And there are those who agree with Bush; military training ingrains respect for authority, in my understanding, and questioning orders is not encouraged.
I'm mostly speculating, because I don't think I'll ever truly understand military culture.

Hume's Ghost: Our ideologues consider Iraq a *success*. Iran will make Iraq look like a cakewalk. Maybe then they'll get it... maybe.

Posted by: anonymous at April 8, 2006 06:50 PM

Oh, my. And all led by a man who can't even sit a horse or best a pretzel in that celebrated duel to the death.

Posted by: Jesus B. Ochoa at April 8, 2006 07:45 PM

This is truly startling and terrible. I wondered if the joint chiefs were ever, ever going to react. So far, I don't think the military brass has ever displayed the level of cowardice as we've seen under Rumsfeld. That they don't want even rumors about us using nuclear weapons is a good thing. Because those kind of rumors have a tendency to activate counterstrikes, and we know that if some paramilitary organization really wanted to, there are enough floating armaments in the post Soviet world that they could probably latch hold of that kind of weapon.

While I am pretty sure that the circle around Rumsfeld is full of morally hollow men, I don't think -- at least yet -- that they are so hollow as to really start a nuclear war. I do think that Rumsfeld is the type who likes the rumor -- that, I'm just crazy enough to do it strategy was practiced by Rumsfeld's first boss, Nixon, and Rummy is an apt pupil. But it is a terribly stupid idea to revive that stategy now.

Posted by: roger at April 8, 2006 08:17 PM

I seriously think that this is a talonless bald eagle we are looking at here. Go to to understand why. The site's owner is a major conspiracy theorist, but he makes some valid points about Iran.

Posted by: En Ming Hee at April 9, 2006 02:52 AM

Anyway, here is an excellent article on why this is a de-taloned bald eagle:

Posted by: En Ming Hee at April 9, 2006 02:55 AM

roger, i would have agreed with you in 2002.

iraq, john bolton and katrina kinda changed my mind.

Posted by: almostinfamous at April 9, 2006 05:34 AM

Well, I'm just as disappointed as everybody else that Iran is forcing us to pursue these options. Why can't they be reasonable? If only those mullah chaps had attended a good preparatory school and college.

Posted by: donescobar at April 9, 2006 10:21 AM

military about, do nothing?

The pathological need to "do something" - whatever it is - seems a peculiarly American syndrome.

Posted by: floopmeister at April 9, 2006 08:59 PM

If only those mullah chaps had attended a good preparatory school and college.

Like Stutts, for example.

Posted by: Nell at April 10, 2006 09:53 AM


Posted by: Gvadelup at April 14, 2006 10:39 AM