In an interview with CNN, the US Defence Secretary declared “I do not rule out anything”, when asked about deployment of nuclear weapons in Afghanistan.
Donald Rumsfeld made this declaration in na interview with Wolf Blitzer of CNN on October 28th. In the interview, he clarified many points about the campaign in Afghanistan and made the position of the USA clear.
Firstly, he stated that from the beginning, the military planned for a long campaign. “This isn’t days or weeks or months”, he said. He pointed out that the military operation was only one part of a multi-faceted campaign which includes political pressure, economic, financial and law enforcement components.
Regarding the military operations, he divided the campaign into phases. Phase one is now complete, he declared, this being to neutralise the air defences to make military and humanitarian programmes feasible with a minimum of risk. He said there were still some Taleban aircraft hidden and also surface-to-air missiles, but “we’ve done a pretty good job”. The next phase is aid to the opposition forces around Mazar-i-Sharif, Kabul and Kandahar and massive bombing of the enormous complexes of tunnels and caves in which the Taleban take refuge.
For this purpose, Donald Rumsfeld stated that he considered the 5,000-pound bunker buster bombs sufficient but when asked if he would consider deployment of tactical nuclear weapons, he replied promptly: “I don’t rule out anything...The United States has historically refused to rule out the use of weapons like that”.
Regarding the collateral damage, the US Defence Secretary claimed that nobody could confirm whether the hits were by US military aircraft or by the Taleban themselves. He said “The USA is very careful with collateral damage” but he did admit later in the interview that “We have to be more careful” and admitted that the best of the US weaponry is 85 – 90% accurate.
Asked about Ramadan, the Defence Secretary declared that “There is nothing in that religion that suggests that conflicts have to stop during Ramadan”, mentioning that the Northern Alliance and Taleban have fought through Ramadan year after year and that there was even Middle East War during this period.
Finally, on the issue of Iraq, Donald Rumsfeld was less clear: “What we do know about Iraq is that Iraq has been a nation that has been a nation that has engaged in terrorist acts”.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru LISBON PORTUGAL