The Guardian 8 June, 2005
New US doctrine
of nuclear pre-emption
The Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US Armed Forces is preparing new guidelines for the use of nuclear weapons. On March 15 this year, it made public the draft titled "Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations". The plan, which is expected to be finalised in August, will give shape to the US nuclear pre-emptive attack strategy announced by the Bush administration in the 2002 "Nuclear Posture Review".
In the Nuclear Non-proliferation Review Conference at the UN, many non-nuclear states are calling for the abolition as well as no first use of nuclear weapons. The new US doctrine directly rejects their calls.
The US President has the authority to approve the use of nuclear weapons. The new doctrine proposes eight specific cases in which regional commanders in the Pacific and other theatres may request presidential approval to carry out a nuclear strike. They include: an adversary using or intending to use weapons of mass destruction against US, multinational, or alliance forces or civilian populations; to counter potentially overwhelming adversary conventional forces; for rapid and favourable war termination on US terms; to insure success of US and multinational operations.
It is significant that the doctrine calls for the use of nuclear weapons against those who are perceived to have an intention to attack the US. If war is prosecuted based on such an assumption, the world will face disastrous consequences. Article 51 of the UN Charter prohibits member states from using force based on a possibility of attack.
The Bush administration launched the Iraq war based on the allegation that the Hussein regime had weapons of mass destruction. Making a pre-emptive strike against a country because of a perceived dangerous "intention", although the United States is not under attack, amounts to a war of aggression. That's why many countries, including US allies, expressed their opposition to the Iraq War.
The Bush administration, however, maintains a national policy of pre-emptive war. Completion of the new doctrine will further increase the risk of the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons in conflicts like the Iraq war.
The new doctrine, calling for the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons in order to ensure success in operations of multinational forces, may involve Japan as a US "accomplice" because the Koizumi government sent the Self-Defence Forces (SDF) to participate in the multinational forces led by US forces in the Iraq war and would join the US pre-emptive wars anywhere in the world.
If US forces, with support from Japan, use nuclear weapons unilaterally, it will cause elsewhere the indescribable tragedy caused by the A-bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Regardless of whether the SDF actually use force or not, Japan-US joint operations abroad will always have to be premised on the use of nuclear weapons.
Opposition to the Bush administration's pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons policy is very important for world peace and security.
The Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations reveals the fact that the Bush administration systematically pursues a policy of the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons. The United States is attempting to scrap the 2000 "unequivocal undertaking" and instead is engaging in research and development of smaller nuclear weapons. This is because the United States, centring its pre- emptive attack strategy on the use of nuclear weapons, seeks to make these weapons usable in actual wars.
Abolition of nuclear weapons guarantees a ban on the pre-emptive use of such weapons. Let us increase the public movement calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons around the world.
Japan Press Weekly