Nuclear Brief February 2, 2006
Pentagon Cancels Controversial Nuclear Doctrine
Pentagon cancels controversial nuclear documents
The Pentagon has formally cancelled a controversial
Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations after the doctrine was exposed
last year in an
article in Arms Control Today in September 2005 and
Washington Post. The revised draft included for the first time
descriptions of preemptive use of US nuclear weapons, and caused the
Senate Armed Services Committee to ask for a briefing, and 16
lawmakers to protest to President Bush.
The decision to cancel the doctrine document, and four
other related documents, was confirmed today by the Pentagon. An
official explained that the documents will not be published, revised, or
classified. He added that they were not really doctrine documents but
"pseudo documents" discussing nuclear policy issues. The public
"visibility led a lot of people to question why we have them," he said.
The main document, formally known as Doctrine for
Joint Nuclear Operations (Joint Pub 3-12) was first published in
1993 and updated in 1995. A revision has been under preparation since
The 1995 version, which was publicly available on a Pentagon web
site for a decade, was removed in October 2005 after the public
disclosure of the revision. The following month, according to the
Pentagon, the decision was made to cancel the documents.
In addition to the main document, the Pentagon also
cancelled three other related documents: Doctrine for
Joint Nuclear Theater Operations (Joint Pub 3-12.1) from 1996,
Doctrine for Nuclear Weapons Effects (Joint Pub 3-12.2) from 1995, and
Doctrine for Nuclear Weapons Effects (Notional) (Joint Pub 3-12.3) from
The cancellation of the doctrine documents was
discovered after they disappeared from a Joint Chiefs of Staff overview
of ongoing revisions. The previous
overview from April 2005 included all three documents, but they were
missing from a
new overview published in January 2006.
Does the cancellation mean that U.S. nuclear policy
has changed? No. The decision to cancel the documents simply removes
controversial documents from the public domain and from the Pentagon's
internal reading list. The
White House and Pentagon guidance that directs the use of nuclear
weapons remains unchanged by the cancellation.