More on Deterrence and Nuclear Terrorism

Wade Boese pointed out “this _NYT_ story”:http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/08/washington/08nuke.html?_r=1&oref=slogin from last year to me. It has some details which appear relevant to “this post”:http://www.totalwonkerr.net/1633/expanded-nuclear-target-set I wrote the other day.

I was going on about this statement from Hadley:

bq. the United States will hold any state, terrorist group, or other non-state actor *fully accountable* for supporting or enabling terrorist efforts to obtain or use weapons of mass destruction, whether by facilitating, financing, or providing expertise or safe haven for such efforts.

I also noted that

bq. there may be some question as to whether holding an entity “fully accountable” is distinct from responding with “overwhelming force.”

Well, the _NYT_ pointed out an interesting tidbit that appears to bolster my suspicions regarding the meaning of “fully accountable:”

A previously undisclosed meeting last year of President Bush’s most senior national security advisers was the highest level discussion about how to rewrite the cold war rules.

[snip]

Among the subjects of the meeting last year was whether to issue a warning to all countries around the world that if a nuclear weapon was detonated on American soil and was traced back to any nation’s stockpiles, through nuclear forensics, *the United States would hold that country “fully responsible” for the consequences of the explosion. The term “fully responsible” was left deliberately vague so that it would be unclear whether the United States would respond with a retaliatory nuclear attack, or, far more likely, a nonnuclear retaliation, whether military or diplomatic.*

There it is.

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