This web site is
viewed in full screen
medium font with
Internet Explorer 5 or
higher and Netscape
6 or higher.
Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations, December 1995
The JCS published an updated version of Joint Pub 3-12 in December 1995
seven months after the indefinite extension of the nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty (NPT) in May 1995. Like in the case of
its predecessor, STRATCOM was the lead
agent. The new Joint Pub 3-12 was a more complete document that
describing the role of nuclear deterrence and force posture and
deployment considerations in much greater details.
The background for the document was the completion of the
Clinton administration's Nuclear Posture Review in September 1994, which
reaffirmed the importance of nuclear weapons and maintained a Cold War-type
triad of nuclear warheads on submarines, land-based missiles, and bombers.
Joint Pub 3-12 cemented the expanded role of nuclear deterrence beyond
Russia and China to "rogue" states, and beyond nuclear to also deter other forms of WMD.
But although the doctrine was published after the
1995 Congressional ban on low-yield nuclear weapons development
(the so-called PLYWD legislation), the updated Joint Pub 3-12 repeated the need for such weapons as a useful tool in
The expanded role of nuclear deterrence beyond nuclear to also cover non-nuclear opponents armed with chemical or biological (or
just ballistic missiles) had real implications for the NPT. The
indefinite extension of the treaty was secured partially because the
U.S. (together with the other five original nuclear powers) pledged not
to use nuclear weapons to threaten or attack non-nuclear states
party to (and in compliance with) the NPT. Yet since the NPT only
regulates nuclear but not other forms of WMD, the expanded U.S. nuclear
deterrence meant that a non-nuclear NPT country could potentially find
itself a target for U.S. nuclear weapons threat or use if it possessed
chemical or biological weapons. This conflict remains unresolved and an
irritant to the NPT regime.
As a result of the increased focus on regional
military operations and nuclear deterrence of
"rogue" states armed with WMD, the 1995 Joint Pub 3-12 addressed
mainly strategic nuclear operations. It did include descriptions of
theater nuclear operations, but mainly from a strategic context, and threats
from terrorists were only addresses in the context of securing nuclear
weapons against theft. These issues, targeting "rogue" states and
terrorists, were addressed more in-depth in a separate document:
Doctrine for Joint Theater Nuclear Operations (Joint Pub 3-12.1).