Key Quotes from Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Southeast Asia

Key Quotes from Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Southeast Asia



If about 100 weapons of 10-KT yield each could be delivered from base parameters onto all 70 [US] target areas in a coordinated strike, the U.S. fighting capability in Vietnam would be essentially annihilated. In the more likely contingency that only a few weapons could be delivered intermittently, U.S. casualties would still be extremely high and the degradation of U.S. capabilities would be considerable.” (p. 6)

“The use of TNW [tactical nuclear weapons] in Southeast Asia would be highly damaging to the U.S. whether or not the use remains unilateral.” (7)

“The overall result of our study is to confirm the generally held opinion that the use of TNW in Southeast Asia would offer the U.S. no decisive military advantage if the use remained unilateral, and it would have strongly adverse effects if the enemy were able to use TNW in reply.” (7)

“Insurgent groups everywhere in the world would take note and would try by all available means to acquire TNWs for themselves.” (46)

“Any fallout barrier that is effective in stopping men walking across it at 3 miles per hour would constitute a lethal threat to a population living permanently within a distance of 200 miles on either side of it. If the people were “friendly,” they would have to be evacuated; if they were “enemy” the barrier would be primarily an anti-population, rather than a tactical, operation.” (18)

“During the 1980s there will be vast quantities of fissionable material produced in many countries, and leakage into unauthorized channels will be difficult to prevent. It is therefore of tremendous long-range importance to avoid setting a precedent for use of TNW by guerilla forces.” (46)

“the effect of first use on world opinion in general and on our Allies in particular would be extremely unfavorable. With the exception of Thailand and Laos, the action would almost certainly be condemned even in Asia and might result in the abrogation of treaty obligations by Japan.” (50)

“The effect on public opinion in the U.S. goes beyond the scope of this paper. It is probably safe to assume that the use of TNW would be extremely divisive, no matter how much preparation preceded.” (51)

“In sum, the political effects of U.S. first use of TNW in Vietnam would be uniformly bad and could be catastrophic.” (51)

Source: F.J. Dyson, R. Gomer, S. Weinberg, S.C. Wright, Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Southeast Asia, Study S-266, Jason Division, Institute of Defense Analyses, contract DAHC15 67 C 0011, published March 1967; released to Nautilus Institute on December 4, 2003.