After changing up and narrowing the when-we-would-use nuclear weapons policy on April 6, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton revised – or clarified – the policy this morning. I think the administration is trying to put together a game plan that could never be used in reality.
The Washington Times had one of the stories concerning the narrowing policy earlier this week.
The document alters the role of nuclear weapons in defense policy by reducing the number of potential U.S. nuclear targets. It asserts — with caveats — that the United States would not use nuclear weapons to respond to a chemical or biological attack.
That assurance would only apply to countries that had signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and had met their obligations. Countries flouting the treaty remain a threat to U.S. security, the document says.
“The United States is therefore not prepared at the present time to adopt a universal policy that deterring nuclear attack is the sole purpose of nuclear weapons, but will work to establish conditions under which such a policy could be safely adopted,” it says.
The United States also said it might adjust the policy if biological weapons technology developed more catastrophic potential.
Clinton the president’s remarks this morning on Face the State.
The revised nuclear policy says that the United States will not use nuclear weapons to respond to a chemical or biological attack from a non-nuclear country. The policy, however, leaves significant contingencies, said Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
Countries which are non-signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (such as North Korea) or have been found to be non-compliant (such as Iran) are not exempt from nuclear retaliation under the Obama policy.
“We were concerned about the biological weapons,” Gates said, “and that’s why the president was very clear … if we see states developing biological weapons that we begin to think endanger us or create serious concerns, that he reserves the right to revise this policy.”
Clinton added, “If we can prove that a biological attack originated in a country that attacked us, then all bets are off.”
I guess there are always plenty of caveats concerning the use of nuclear weapons when their primary purpose is a deterrent, especially for the United States. My concern here is many pundits are trying to get the Obama administration to lay out specific game plans when and if something specific happens.
Isn’t there some saying about a perfectly planned battle plan that almost always gets thrown out the window once the actual battle starts?
Let’s not pigeon hole America into a situation where we are required to stick to the battle or response plan OK?