We got the (bunker-busting) neutron bomb.

So Seymour Hersch reported in the New Yorker that the Bush team wants to use "mini"-nuclear weapons against underground Iranian targets. People seemed surprised. My question: do they not remember anything?

This newspaper graph is from October 2000

National Institute for Public Policy (pdf), "Rationale and Requirements for U.S. Nuclear Forces and Arms Control" 01/2001 (italics mine):

Hardened facilities are designed to withstand conventional or nuclear weapons effects. Hardened targets built underground and deeply buried facilities are the most difficult to destroy and will influence the required number and characteristics of nuclear weapons. Tunnels and caverns, for example, can be hundreds of feet below the surface and well-protected by soil and rock. Examples of hardened and buried targets include missile silos, launch control centers, concrete aircraft shelters, deeply buried command posts, tunnels for missile storage and assembly, storage bunkers, and underground facilities for weapons research and production. (p. 5)

(that report is fun to read, with the think tank suggesting, pre 9/11, the need to keep the military flush for our upcoming military conflict with the "worse yet, a Sino-Russian alliance". Hersch points out in his article that signers of the above document are currently, among other thigns, the national-security adviser, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and the Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security for the Bush team.)

That report fed into the Nuclear Posture Review, a Rumsfeld signed confidential report given to Congress in March 2002 (excellent broad overview, with links to accompanying editorials, here):

"Composed of both non-nuclear systems and nuclear weapons, the strike element of the New Triad can provide greater flexibility in the design and conduct of military campaigns to defeat opponents decisively. Non-nuclear strike capabilities may be particularly useful to limit collateral damage and conflict escalation. Nuclear weapons could be employed against targets able to withstand non-nuclear attack, (for example, deep underground bunkers or bio-weapon facilities)." (p. 12-13)

I find it so weird that people are surprised when, after watching the President ask Congress for funding for the research and development of low-level nuclear weapons and the military for plans and rationales to use them against underground WMD bunkers, it gets reported that the Bush team is very interested in the idea of actually using the things they were so interested in against Iran. New Yorker:

The lack of reliable intelligence leaves military planners, given the goal of totally destroying the sites, little choice but to consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons.