A Republican congressman is standing by a comment he made on Wednesday that the United States might want to consider using tactical nuclear weapons should it decide to take military action on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
“I don’t think [war is] inevitable but I think if you have to hit Iran, you don’t put boots on the ground,” Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) said earlier this week, “you do it with tactical nuclear devices and you set them back a decade or two or three. I think that’s the way to do it with a massive aerial bombardment campaign.”
While experts and commentators blasted Hunter for his “irresponsible” comment, the California Republican isn’t walking away from it. “It doesn’t mean we nuke Iran. It means you leave it on the table as a last resort to disable their nuclear capability,” Hunter told the San Diego Union-Tribune, adding, “It’s one of the possible ways if you are going to say here is the red line … We have these weapons for a reason.”
The Union Tribune reports that Hunter does not believe his comments will have any international repercussions:
That’s because military planners “will say exactly the same things” privately.
“I guess I am the only one who said it (publicly),” Hunter said. “This is not a secret thing. A lot of people talk about it as an option.”
“That a senior Republican member of the House Armed Services Committee is even suggesting such a possible course of action is the height of reckless irresponsibility and so far out of bounds it is astonishing,” Kingston Reif of the Center for Arms Control and Non-proliferation said of Hunter’s original comment. “The first use of nuclear weapons against Iran would guarantee a mad Iranian dash to acquire nuclear weapons to deter future such US attacks, likely convince other potential US adversaries in the region and around the world to acquire their own nuclear weapons to ward off a potential future US attack.”
Hunter has said that he opposes the recent deal the six world powers reached with Iran last month in Geneva to rein in its nuclear program. He also supports adding on additional economic sanctions on Iran while a final deal is being negotiated. Adding more sanctions on Iran now could be interpreted as a violation of the Geneva deal.