Excerpts: Committee voted to repeal a 10-year ban on the research and development of “low-yield” nuclear weapons—defined as nukes having an explosive power smaller than 5 kilotons. (The House committee will take up the measure this week.) The Bush administration has lobbied heavily for the repeal. Democrats oppose the idea on the grounds that “mini-nukes”—by blurring the distinction between nuclear and non-nuclear weapons—make nuclear war more thinkable and, therefore, in the minds of some, more doable.
Some in the Bush administration are living proof of this objection. They want to demystify nuclear weapons, strip away the taboo against their use, and insinuate them into the arsenal of U.S. war-fighting tools. A key figure in this effort is Keith Payne.

Note the phrasing. It’s startling enough that Payne suggests attacking (even non-nuclear) mobile missiles with nukes. But he goes further, suggesting that we attack whole “areas” where mobile missiles are merely “suspected” to be deployed. And he suggests attacking these with “multiple” nuclear weapons. Payne also argues that nuclear weapons might be needed to destroy “deeply buried facilities … such as underground biological weapons facilities.” He leaves unanswered why simply disabling such a facility—which he admits can be done with conventional weapons—wouldn’t be good enough. He then says the need to destroy these sorts of targets means we cannot afford to make deep cuts in our nuclear arsenal but should instead continue to build new types of nuclear weapons.

http://www.slate.com/id/2082846/

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