The new doctrine shows military planners anticipating that U.S.
nuclearweapons might be used pre-emptively, and in much less
intense crisesthan envisioned previously, including in a
conventional conflict. Thedocument, which includes comments by all
the major military commands,provides the first formal update of US
nuclear operational policy sincethe Bush administration took
The editing of the document reveals sharp internal disagreements
aboutthe legality of the US's new posture, specifically its
impliedendorsement of the use of nuclear weapons against targets
whosedestruction by a nuclear weapon must inevitably lead to
massivecivilian casualties. A final version of the document is
expected thisautumn. The document reveals:
* Plans for the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons against non
nuclearcountries and against countries which the US judged might be
intendingto use chemical or biological weapons against its forces
* That the Bush administration's public claims to be reducing
the role of nuclear weapons are false.
* That nuclear weapons might be used in less intense crises than
previously considered including in a conventional conflict.
* That the distinction between conventional forces and nuclear
weaponsis being discarded and nuclear weapons being integrated
intoconventional weapons planning and missile defences.
* That the main purpose of missile defences is to defend
military forces not civilians.
* That some commanders do not believe that the threats used to
justify the new doctrine actually exist.
The editing process also reveals internal divisions about the
legalityof the new nuclear doctrine. On one hand the document
concludes theUnited States is legally free to use nuclear weapons
pre-emptively ifit chooses, "no customary or conventional
international law prohibitsnations from employing nuclear weapons
in armed conflict".
However the editing process reveals a debate among the
differentcommands over the legality of different types of targeting
of nuclearweapons.Of particular concern was the legal status of
'countervalue targeting',which directs the destruction or
neutralization of selected enemymilitary and military-related
activities, such as industries,resources, and/or institutions that
contribute to the enemy'sabilityto wage war.
The US strategic command, STRATCOM, which directs nuclear
warfightingcommented 'Many operational law attorneys do not believe
"countervalue"targeting is a lawful justification for employment of
force, much lessnuclear force. Countervalue philosophy makes no
distinction betweenpurely civilian activities and military related
activities and could beused to justify deliberate attacks on
civilians and non-militaryportions of a nation's economy...For
example, under the countervaluetarget philosophy, the attack on the
World Trade Center Towers on 9/11could be justified'.
They concluded that therefore "countervalue targeting violates"
the Lawof Armed Conflict and suggested changing the phrase
"countervalue" to"critical infrastructure targeting."
The US European command, EUCOM, responded by strongly objecting
to theuse of the term 'critical infrastructure' to hide the fact
that the newnuclear warfighting doctrine encourages nuclear
targeting which couldwell lead to massive civilian casualties. The
refusal of EUCOM to agreewith thisterminology led to both the terms
"critical infrastructure targeting"and 'countervalue' being
withdrawn from the document to end thediscussion. However this
type of targeting appears to continue,and simply changing the
terminology obviously does not change theillegal targeting
Greenpeace International disarmament campaigner William Peden
said,"This document should send a shiver down the spine of
everyone. Itshows that the highest levels of the Pentagon have
undergone a majorshift in thinking and now view nuclear weapons no
longer as a weapon oflast resort but a weapon that can and should
"This means a US military machine prepared use nuclear weapons
first,against non nuclear countries and non military related
He continued, "The US government must immediately distance
themselvesfrom the nuclear warmongers at the Pentagon, announce a
policy of nofirstuse of nuclear weapons and get serious about
negotiating a treaty toachieve a world free of nuclear weapons. The
alternative is a newnuclear arms race."
Other contacts: William Peden, Greenpeace International disarmament campaigner, +31653504731
Notes: EDITOR'S NOTESTo see a full version of the document, including editing comments visit theGreenpeace website www.greenpeace.org