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Pentagon Revives Mini-Nukes Proposal

Aug. 5, 2017 (EIRNS)—The idea of small nuclear weapons that could be used against hard targets in a tactical situation, an idea that was raised and then died during the 2001-2006 tenure of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, has been resurrected, this time by Gen. Paul Selva, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Selva told an event at the Air Force Association in Washington, D.C. this past week, reports Defense One, that deterrence lies not only in big warheads that can destroy entire cities, but also in small warheads, so called "mini-nukes." The threat of mutually assured destruction doesn’t work against smaller regimes in the way that it used to against the Soviet Union, Selva argued. He said the U.S. needs to be able launch a nuclear attack on an adversary without ending the world or causing massive "indiscriminate" casualties.

"If all you have is high-yield weapons to answer a low-yield attack, it’s still a nuclear attack. Answering that with a conventional weapon is likely not going to have the kind of deterrent value as saying, ’Even if you use a low-yield weapon, we have options to respond,’"

he said.

"If the only options we have are to go with high-yield weapons that create a level of indiscriminate killing that the President can’t accept, then we haven’t presented him with an option to respond to a nuclear attack in kind."

The idea of "mini-nukes" or bunker buster bombs—small nuclear weapons designed to target deeply buried bunkers—died during the Rumsfeld era because Congress would not fund the development of such weapons beyond design studies, over concerns that lowering the explosive yield of the weapons would lower the threshold for their use.