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President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Afghanistan in a single 70-minute conversation two weeks ago, according to military and intelligence sources reports DEBKA-Net-Weekly.
The arms would include small neutron bombs, which emit strong radiation, nuclear mines, shells, and other nuclear ammunition suited to commando warfare in mountainous terrain, according to the independent intelligence service.
As part of the agreement between the two presidents, Bush assented to Russia deploying tactical nuclear weapons units around Chechnya, DEBKA also reports. Moscow faces guerrilla forces in the region – some of whom are backed by terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.
Military sources place the U.S. nuclear weapons in four former Soviet Central Asian bases – the military air facility at Tuzel, 10 miles northwest of the Uzbek capital of Tashkent; at Kagady in the Termez region; in Khandabad, near the city of Karshi; and at the military air base in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan.
In addition to the nuclear weapons units, Russian bombers carrying small neutron bombs were moved to Russian military air bases around the border of the breakaway province, in Stavropol northwest of Chechnya, the Godowta base in Georgia to the south, and Mozdok in northern Osetia, northwest of Chechnya.
Russian and U.S. military sources refuse to confirm the reports.
According to DEBKA’s military sources, the U.S. plans to hold its tactical nuclear weapons in reserve, unleashing them in the campaign against bin Laden only in certain extreme circumstances:
1. To counter a move by Bin Laden’s men if they bring out nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against the U.S. force fighting inside Afghanistan.
2. If there’s a chemical or biological assault by the Taliban against Pakistan.
3. Should groups of bin Laden’s Al-Qaida network – either in Central Asia or the Balkans – wield these weapons of mass destruction against U.S. military targets or U.S. nuclear arms in other parts of the world.
4. If using them is the only way to save heavy American combat casualties.