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Atomic warheads aimed at Iraq after US policy switch Melbourne Age Page 1 , Monday Feb 2 1998 Washington, Sunday The United States can direct tactical atomic warheads at Iraq for the first time after changing its nuclear weapons policy, according to White House and Pentagon officials. The top-secret directive, signed by the President, Mr Bill Clinton, in November, is part of the administration's contingency plan to consider using atomic bombs on Iraqi weapon sites if President Saddam Hussein launches a biological attack on Israel or other neighboring countries using Scud rockets, say the officials. They said the policy shift involving tactical nuclear weapons and so-called "rogue states", such as Iraq, was made as part of the most extensive overhaul of US policy regarding strategic and tactical nuclear weapons since the Reagan years. "It is US policy to target nuclear weapons if there is the use of weapons of mass destruction" by Iraq, said a senior Clinton adviser who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Whether we would use it is another matter." The new policy was part of Presidential Policy Directive 60, which Mr Clinton approved after consultation with the Defence Secretary, Mr William Cohen, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Hugh Shelton. The United States is the only country to have used atomic weapons in war, dropping bombs on the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Through the Reagan administration, US policy promised massive retaliation to prevent nuclear confrontations with the Soviet Union and China. With the end of the Cold War, the threats changed from long-range strategic nuclear weapons targeted against major nations to more flexible weapons of mass destruction that could be used by smaller rogue states such as Iraq. Administration officials say they fear Mr Hussein might use a handful of Scud rockets to spread a powdered version of anthrax spores over Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Israel, killing thousands and making parts of Riyadh, Kuwait City and Tel Aviv uninhabitable for decades. During the Gulf War in 1991, President Bush threatened to retaliate with nuclear force if Mr Hussein used biological weapons, but his administration never formally adopted a policy. But it was Mr Bush's warning that has evolved into Mr Clinton's directive. Until November, first use of nuclear weapons on Iraq would have violated US pledges never to make such an attack on a signer of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which includes Iraq. But [JS officials say Mr Hussein's efforts to develop nuclear weapons would forfeit Iraq's treaty protection. Mr Clinton's threat has been deliberately vague. Pentagon spokesman Mr Ken Bacon said last week the US refused to "rule in or rule out" the use of tactical nuclear warheads. Mr Bacon's words have caused rumblings abroad and among the arms control community. The B61 series of tactical warheads involved in the contingency planning are so-called "mini-nukes" with an explosive force less than one kilotonne. The bomb dropped on Hiroshima had an estimated 13 kilotonnes of explosive power. Even so, the mini-nukes are 300 to 500 times more powerful than the largest conventional, non-nuclear warhead in the US arsenal -AP -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email email@example.com, NOT the whole list. Do not respond to emails erroneously sent to the whole list.