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FAS Urges White House to exclude Nuclear Weapons From National Security Strategy in War on Terrorism

FAS Urges White House to exclude Nuclear Weapons From National Security Strategy in War on Terrorism
03-16-2006

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The new National Security Strategy for the United States published yesterday by the White House strengthens the role of nuclear weapons in preemptive military strikes against terrorists and hostile states armed with chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. In stronger language than used in the previous strategy from 2002, the new strategy speaks more directly about the importance of nuclear weapons and lumps them together with other military action in a preemption scenario.

"The National Security Strategy was the Bush administration's last opportunity to demonstrate that it has reduced the role of nuclear weapons after the Cold War," said Hans M. Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). "Instead it has chosen to reaffirm their importance and in the most troubling way possible: preemption."

Under the headline "The Need for Action," the new National Security Strategy says: " Safe, credible, and reliable nuclear forces continue to play a critical role. We are strengthening deterrence by developing a New Triad composed of offensive strike systems (both nuclear and improved conventional capabilities)... These capabilities will better deter some of the new threats we face, while also bolstering our security commitments to allies....If necessary, however, under long-standing principles of self-defense, we do not rule out the use of force before attacks occur, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack. When the consequences of an attack with WMD are potentially so devastating, we cannot afford to stand idle by as grave dangers materialize. This is the principle and logic of preemption."

The strategy identifies Iran, North Korea, and terrorism as the three main threats to the United States and its allies. The report had harsh words for Iran at a time when the United States and its European allies have brought Iran before the U.N. Security Council to answer allegations that it is secretly developing nuclear weapons.

"The United States cannot argue that Iran should give up it nuclear ambitions while advocating an aggressive strategy for pre-emptive use of American nuclear weapons," said Ivan Oelrich, Vice President of Strategic Security for the FAS.

The National Security Strategy forms the basis for the Pentagon's development of the National Military Strategy, which in turn is used to create the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan that assigns military forces and capabilities to the different military commands to fulfill the National Security Strategy.

National Security Strategy 2006

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