Pentagon considers using non-nuke ICBMs for preemptive strikes against "terrorists"
Written by wikinews.org   

The Pentagon is considering replacing the nuclear warheads on some ballistic missiles with conventional munitions so that they can be used for "pre-emptive" strikes against alleged terrorists, Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld told reporters after a meeting with Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov.

"If either of our countries or friends and allies were threatened at[sic] some number of years into the future with a weapon of mass destruction or a capability that was that lethal, I think any president, whether of Russia or the United States, would like to have available a conventional weapon that could attack that target swiftly and accurately and precisely and not feel that the only thing they had might be a nuclear weapon, which they would not want to use.", Rumsfeld said. He urged Russia to consider the idea too, but Ivanov said a pre-emptive strike was not the only solution.

The Pentagon has considered such strategies before. In February 2003 a similar plan was suggested, and in May 2006 it was recommended that Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs) be used for such a purpose. Critics wondered what the risks would be for setting off accidental nuclear war: it would be impossible for another nation to tell whether a Trident II or Minuteman III launch was conventional — or nuclear-armed until it had actually detonated.
US DOD, 2006
A U.S. Minuteman III missile in its silo, 1989.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 06 September 2006 )