From the article “The Iran Plans” by Seymour Hersh in the newest issue of the New Yorker:
One of the militaryâ€™s initial option plans, as presented to the White House by the Pentagon this winter, calls for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, against underground nuclear sites…
The lack of reliable intelligence leaves military planners, given the goal of totally destroying the sites, little choice but to consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons. â€œEvery other option, in the view of the nuclear weaponeers, would leave a gap,â€ the former senior intelligence official said. â€œ â€˜Decisiveâ€™ is the key word of the Air Forceâ€™s planning. Itâ€™s a tough decision. But we made it in Japan.â€
He went on, â€œNuclear planners go through extensive training and learn the technical details of damage and falloutâ€”weâ€™re talking about mushroom clouds, radiation, mass casualties, and contamination over years. This is not an underground nuclear test, where all you see is the earth raised a little bit. These politicians donâ€™t have a clue, and whenever anybody tries to get it outâ€â€”remove the nuclear optionâ€”â€œtheyâ€™re shouted down.â€
The attention given to the nuclear option has created serious misgivings inside the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he added, and some officers have talked about resigning. Late this winter, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sought to remove the nuclear option from the evolving war plans for Iranâ€”without success, the former intelligence official said. â€œThe White House said, â€˜Why are you challenging this? The option came from you.â€™ â€
The Pentagon adviser on the war on terror confirmed that some in the Administration were looking seriously at this option, which he linked to a resurgence of interest in tactical nuclear weapons among Pentagon civilians and in policy circles. He called it â€œa juggernaut that has to be stopped.â€ He also confirmed that some senior officers and officials were considering resigning over the issue. â€œThere are very strong sentiments within the military against brandishing nuclear weapons against other countries,â€ the adviser told me. â€œThis goes to high levels.â€ The matter may soon reach a decisive point, he said, because the Joint Chiefs had agreed to give President Bush a formal recommendation stating that they are strongly opposed to considering the nuclear option for Iran. â€œThe internal debate on this has hardened in recent weeks,â€ the adviser said. â€œAnd, if senior Pentagon officers express their opposition to the use of offensive nuclear weapons, then it will never happen.â€
The adviser added, however, that the idea of using tactical nuclear weapons in such situations has gained support from the Defense Science Board, an advisory panel whose members are selected by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
The rest is here.