This article was first published more than eleven years ago in February 2006 under the title Is the Bush Administration Planning a Nuclear Holocaust?
The first part I of this text was published as a separate article entitled: The Dangers of a Middle East Nuclear War, New Pentagon Doctrine: Mini-Nukes are “Safe for the Surrounding Civilian Population”.
The results of this research were then integrated in my book entitled Towards World War Three Scenario, The Dangers of Nuclear War, Global Research Publishers, 2011
Nuclear war with Russia, China, Iran and North Korea is “on the table”. Non-nuclear states in the Middle East are also contemplated as potential targets for a preemptive nuclear attack.
A first strike nuclear weapons attack against these four countries is an integral part of America’s military agenda.
Michel Chossudovsky, Hiroshima Day, August 6, 2017 (July 31, 2017)
“We have discovered the most terrible bomb in the history of the world. It may be the fire destruction prophesied in the Euphrates Valley Era, after Noah and his fabulous Ark…. This weapon is to be used against Japan … [We] will use it so that military objectives and soldiers and sailors are the target and not women and children. Even if the Japs are savages, ruthless, merciless and fanatic, we as the leader of the world for the common welfare cannot drop that terrible bomb on the old capital or the new. … The target will be a purely military one… It seems to be the most terrible thing ever discovered, but it can be made the most useful.”
(President Harry S. Truman, Diary, July 25, 1945)
“The World will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians..” (President Harry S. Truman in a radio speech to the Nation, August 9, 1945).
[Note: the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945; the Second on Nagasaki, on August 9, on the same day as Truman’s radio speech to the Nation]
At no point since the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945, has humanity been closer to the unthinkable, a nuclear holocaust which could potentially spread, in terms of radioactive fallout, over a large part of the Middle East.
All the safeguards of the Cold War era, which categorized the nuclear bomb as “a weapon of last resort” have been scrapped. “Offensive” military actions using nuclear warheads are now described as acts of “self-defense”.
The distinction between tactical nuclear weapons and the conventional battlefield arsenal has been blurred. America’s new nuclear doctrine is based on “a mix of strike capabilities”. The latter, which specifically applies to the Pentagon’s planned aerial bombing of Iran, envisages the use of nukes in combination with conventional weapons.
As in the case of the first atomic bomb, which in the words of President Harry Truman “was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base”, today’s “mini-nukes” are heralded as “safe for the surrounding civilian population”.
Known in official Washington, as “Joint Publication 3-12”, the new nuclear doctrine (Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations , (DJNO) (March 2005)) calls for “integrating conventional and nuclear attacks” under a unified and “integrated” Command and Control (C2).
It largely describes war planning as a management decision-making process, where military and strategic objectives are to be achieved, through a mix of instruments, with little concern for the resulting loss of human life.
Military planning focuses on “the most efficient use of force” , -i.e. an optimal arrangement of different weapons systems to achieve stated military goals. In this context, nuclear and conventional weapons are considered to be “part of the tool box”, from which military commanders can pick and choose the instruments that they require in accordance with “evolving circumstances” in the war theater. (None of these weapons in the Pentagon’s “tool box”, including conventional bunker buster bombs, cluster bombs, mini-nukes, chemical and biological weapons are described as “weapons of mass destruction” when used by the United States of America and its coalition partners).
The stated objective is to:
“ensure the most efficient use of force and provide US leaders with a broader range of [nuclear and conventional] strike options to address immediate contingencies. Integration of conventional and nuclear forces is therefore crucial to the success of any comprehensive strategy. This integration will ensure optimal targeting, minimal collateral damage, and reduce the probability of escalation.” (Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations p. JP 3-12-13)
The new nuclear doctrine turns concepts and realities upside down. It not only denies the devastating impacts of nuclear weapons, it states, in no uncertain terms, that nuclear weapons are “safe” and their use in the battlefield will ensure “minimal collateral damage and reduce the probability of escalation”. The issue of radioactive fallout is barely acknowledged with regard to tactical nuclear weapons. These various guiding principles which describe nukes as “safe for civilians” constitute a consensus within the military, which is then fed into the military manuals, providing relevant “green light” criteria to geographical commanders in the war theater.
“Defensive” and “Offensive” Actions
While the 2001 Nuclear Posture Review sets the stage for the preemptive use of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, specifically against Iran (see also the main PNAC document Rebuilding America`s Defenses, Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century )
The Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations goes one step further in blurring the distinction between “defensive” and “offensive” military actions:
“The new triad offers a mix of strategic offensive and defensive capabilities that includes nuclear and non-nuclear strike capabilities, active and passive defenses, and a robust research, development, and industrial infrastructure to develop, build, and maintain offensive forces and defensive systems …” (Ibid) (key concepts indicated in added italics)
The new nuclear doctrine, however, goes beyond preemptive acts of “self-defense”, it calls for “anticipatory action” using nuclear weapons against a “rogue enemy” which allegedly plans to develop WMD at some undefined future date:
Responsible security planning requires preparation for threats that are possible, though perhaps unlikely today. The lessons of military history remain clear: unpredictable, irrational conflicts occur. Military forces must prepare to counter weapons and capabilities that exist or will exist in the near term even if no immediate likely scenarios for war are at hand. To maximize deterrence of WMD use, it is essential US forces prepare to use nuclear weapons effectively and that US forces are determined to employ nuclear weapons if necessary to prevent or retaliate against WMD use. (Ibid, p. III-1, italics added)
Nukes would serve to prevent a non-existent WMD program (e.g. Iran) prior to its development. This twisted formulation goes far beyond the premises of the 2001 Nuclear Posture Review and NPSD 17. which state that the US can retaliate with nuclear weapons if attacked with WMD:
“The United States will make clear that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force – including potentially nuclear weapons – to the use of [weapons of mass destruction] against the United States, our forces abroad, and friends and allies.” … (NSPD 17)
“Integration” of Nuclear and Conventional Weapons Plans
The Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations outlines the procedures governing the use of nuclear weapons and the nature of the relationship between nuclear and conventional war operations.
The DJNO states that the:
“use of nuclear weapons within a [war] theater requires that nuclear and conventional plans be integrated to the greatest extent possible”
(DJNO, p 47 italics added, italics added, For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, Nuclear War against Iran, Jan 2006 )
The implications of this “integration” are far-reaching because once the decision is taken by the Commander in Chief, namely the President of the United States, to launch a joint conventional-nuclear military operation, there is a risk that tactical nuclear weapons could be used without requesting subsequent presidential approval. In this regard, execution procedures under the jurisdiction of the theater commanders pertaining to nuclear weapons are described as “flexible and allow for changes in the situation”:
“Geographic combatant commanders are responsible for defining theater objectives and developing nuclear plans required to support those objectives, including selecting targets. When tasked, CDRUSSTRATCOM, as a supporting combatant commander, provides detailed planning support to meet theater planning requirements. All theater nuclear option planning follows prescribed Joint Operation Planning and Execution System procedures to formulate and implement an effective response within the timeframe permitted by the crisis..
Since options do not exist for every scenario, combatant commanders must have a capability to perform crisis action planning and execute those plans. Crisis action planning provides the capability to develop new options, or modify existing options, when current limited or major response options are inappropriate.
…Command, control, and coordination must be flexible enough to allow the geographic combatant commander to strike time-sensitive targets such as mobile missile launch platforms.” Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations Doctrine (italics added)
Theater Nuclear Operations (TNO)
While presidential approval is formally required to launch a nuclear war, geographic combat commanders would be in charge of Theater Nuclear Operations (TNO), with a mandate not only to implement but also to formulate command decisions pertaining to nuclear weapons. ( Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations Doctrine )
We are no longer dealing with “the risk” associated with “an accidental or inadvertent nuclear launch” as outlined by former Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara , but with a military decision-making process which provides military commanders, from the Commander in Chief down to the geographical commanders with discretionary powers to use tactical nuclear weapons.
Moreover, because these “smaller” tactical nuclear weapons have been “reclassified” by the Pentagon as “safe for the surrounding civilian population”, thereby “minimizing the risk of collateral damage”, there are no overriding built-in restrictions which prevent their use. (See Michel Chossudovsky, The Dangers of a Middle East Nuclear War , Global Research, February 2006) .
Once a decision to launch a military operation is taken (e.g. aerial strikes on Iran), theater commanders have a degree of latitude. What this signifies in practice is once the presidential decision is taken, USSTRATCOM in liaison with theater commanders can decide on the targeting and type of weaponry to be used. Stockpiled tactical nuclear weapons are now considered to be an integral part of the battlefield arsenal. In other words, nukes have become “part of the tool box”, used in conventional war theaters.
Planned Aerial Attacks on Iran
An operational plan to wage aerial attacks on Iran has been in “a state of readiness” since June 2005. Essential military hardware to wage this operation has been deployed. (For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, Nuclear War against Iran, Jan 2006 ).
Vice President Dick Cheney has ordered USSTRATCOM to draft a “contingency plan”, which “includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons.” (Philip Giraldi, Attack on Iran: Pre-emptive Nuclear War , The American Conservative, 2 August 2005).
USSTRATCOM would have the responsibility for overseeing and coordinating this military deployment as well as launching the military operation. (For details, Michel Chossudovsky, Nuclear War against Iran, Jan 2006 ).
In January 2005 a significant shift in USSTRATCOM’s mandate was implemented. USSTRATCOM was identified as “the lead Combatant Command for integration and synchronization of DoD-wide efforts in combating weapons of mass destruction.” To implement this mandate, a brand new command unit entitled Joint Functional Component Command Space and Global Strike , or JFCCSGS was created.
Overseen by USSTRATCOM, JFCCSGS would be responsible for the launching of military operations “using nuclear or conventional weapons” in compliance with the Bush administration’s new nuclear doctrine. Both categories of weapons would be integrated into a “joint strike operation” under unified Command and Control.
“The Defense Department is upgrading its nuclear strike plans to reflect new presidential guidance and a transition in war planning from the top-heavy Single Integrated Operational Plan of the Cold War to a family of smaller and more flexible strike plans designed to defeat today’s adversaries. The new central strategic war plan is known as OPLAN (Operations Plan) 8044…. This revised, detailed plan provides more flexible options to assure allies, and dissuade, deter, and if necessary, defeat adversaries in a wider range of contingencies….
One member of the new family is CONPLAN 8022, a concept plan for the quick use of nuclear, conventional, or information warfare capabilities to destroy–preemptively, if necessary–“time-urgent targets” anywhere in the world. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld issued an Alert Order in early 2004 that directed the military to put CONPLAN 8022 into effect. As a result, the Bush administration’s preemption policy is now operational on long-range bombers, strategic submarines on deterrent patrol, and presumably intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).”
The operational implementation of the Global Strike would be under CONCEPT PLAN (CONPLAN) 8022, which now consists of “an actual plan that the Navy and the Air Force translate into strike package for their submarines and bombers,’ (Japanese Economic Newswire, 30 December 2005, For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, Nuclear War against Iran, op. cit.).
CONPLAN 8022 is ‘the overall umbrella plan for sort of the pre-planned strategic scenarios involving nuclear weapons.’
‘It’s specifically focused on these new types of threats — Iran, North Korea — proliferators and potentially terrorists too,’ he said. ‘There’s nothing that says that they can’t use CONPLAN 8022 in limited scenarios against Russian and Chinese targets.’ (According to Hans Kristensen, of the Nuclear Information Project, quoted in Japanese Economic News Wire, op. cit.)
Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization
The planning of the aerial bombings of Iran started in mid-2004, pursuant to the formulation of CONPLAN 8022 in early 2004. In May 2004, National Security Presidential Directive NSPD 35 entitled Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization was issued.
The contents of this highly sensitive document remains a carefully guarded State secret. There has been no mention of NSPD 35 by the media nor even in Congressional debates. While its contents remains classified, the presumption is that NSPD 35 pertains to the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in the Middle East war theater in compliance with CONPLAN 8022.
In this regard, a recent press report published in Yeni Safak (Turkey) suggests that the United States is currently:
“deploying B61-type tactical nuclear weapons in southern Iraq as part of a plan to hit Iran from this area if and when Iran responds to an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities”. (Ibrahim Karagul, “The US is Deploying Nuclear Weapons in Iraq Against Iran”, (Yeni Safak,. 20 December 2005, quoted in BBC Monitoring Europe).
This deployment in Iraq appears to be pursuant to NSPD 35 ,
What the Yenbi Safak report suggests is that conventional weapons would be used in the first instance, and if Iran were to retaliate in response to US-Israeli aerial attacks, tactical thermonuclear B61 weapons could then be launched This retaliation using tactical nuclear weapons would be consistent with the guidelines contained in the 2001 Nuclear Posture Review and NSPD 17 (see above).
Israel’s Stockpiling of Conventional and Nuclear Weapons
Israel is part of the military alliance and is slated to play a major role in the planned attacks on Iran. (For details see Michel Chossudovsky, Nuclear War against Iran, Jan 2006 ).
Confirmed by several press reports, Israel has taken delivery, starting in September 2004 of some 500 US produced BLU 109 bunker buster bombs (WP, January 6, 2006). The first procurement order for BLU 109 [Bomb Live Unit] dates to September 2004. In April 2005, Washington confirmed that Israel was to take delivery of 100 of the more sophisticated bunker buster bomb GBU-28 produced by Lockheed Martin ( Reuters, April 26, 2005). The GBU-28 is described as “a 5,000-pound laser-guided conventional munitions that uses a 4,400-pound penetrating warhead.” It was used in the Iraqi war theater:
The Pentagon [stated] that … the sale to Israel of 500 BLU-109 warheads, [was] meant to “contribute significantly to U.S. strategic and tactical objectives.” .
Mounted on satellite-guided bombs, BLU-109s can be fired from F-15 or F-16 jets, U.S.-made aircraft in Israel’s arsenal. This year Israel received the first of a fleet of 102 long-range F-16Is from Washington, its main ally. “Israel very likely manufactures its own bunker busters, but they are not as robust as the 2,000-pound (910 kg) BLUs,” Robert Hewson, editor of Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, told Reuters. (Reuters, 21 September 2004)
The report does not confirm whether Israel has stockpiled and deployed the thermonuclear version of the bunker buster bomb. Nor does it indicate whether the Israeli made bunker buster bombs are equipped with nuclear warheads. It is worth noting that this stock piling of bunker buster bombs occurred within a few months after the Release of the NPSD 35¸ Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization (May 2004).
Israel possesses 100-200 strategic nuclear warheads . In 2003, Washington and Tel Aviv confirmed that they were collaborating in “the deployment of US-supplied Harpoon cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads in Israel’s fleet of Dolphin-class submarines.”