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US not prepared to deal with nuclear attack: Pentagon

Source: PTI
July 23, 2010 14:25 IST
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America's ability to deal with a nuclear attack has been eroded over the years and the country is woefully unprepared for any kind of nuclear attack, a Pentagon report has suggested.

The report has urged the defence department to take steps to enhance nuclear survivability as terms its findings as a 'wake-up call' to Pentagon.

The threat of a nuclear exchange between Russia and the United States, that was rampant during the Cold War era, has receded with changing times. So has the US' capability to tackle the consequences of a nuclear attack, it said.

The United States no longer possesses the know-how to deal with an atomic assault, the study said, describing the lack of expertise as dangerous.

"The nation lacks a clear understanding of the response to nuclear radiation exposure," the report said.

"The technical expertise and infrastructure to help remedy the situation has decayed significantly. Investments in addressing nuclear survivability has declined precipitously," it laments.

It adds that the root cause of the situation lies in the "corporate point of view among the department of defence leadership" that has developed since the end of the Cold War about these matters.

The Pentagon study pointed out that a number of factors had contributed to the deterioration in such an ability, including the fact that since the First Gulf War the DOD has been focusing on building up conventional weapons, which had displaced the significance of nuclear deterrence.

"As a result... fewer and fewer military and civilian leaders have had experience with nuclear weapons and issues around them... and the downward spiral continues," it said. The study warned that enhanced US capabilities in the conventional weapons arena may further push its enemies to adopt nuclear tactics and urged the DOD and the US government to change the prevailing indifference to nuclear deterrence. "The task force also believes that this point of view is profoundly wrong and dangerous," it said.

"The task force is not sure how to change the mindset just described, other than to urge DOD leadership to heed the wake-up call that this report is intended to provide".

The report recommended that nuclear survivability should become a "routine issue" for the leadership like it was in the Cold War era but in the present context of "horizontal proliferation by both state and non-state actors".

The authors of the report noted that operating in a nuclear environment is not too costly, and modern technology would further reduce the cost.

"All in all, we believe it is a prudent price to pay," they said.

The report called for an increase in government and personal funding to be focused on nuclear survivability.

"The task forced believes that this state of affairs -- the atrophy in attention to, understanding of, and investment in nuclear survivability -- is dangerous and needs to be reversed".
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