from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 113
November 13, 2007

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Nonlethal weapons "can provide a forgiving means of imposing our will on adversaries," according to a new U.S. military manual.

Nonlethal weapons (NLW), which do not normally cause fatal injuries, are intended to provide combatants with tools to disable, apprehend or deter an opponent by means short of lethal force. They may be deemed appropriate in urban combat or other environments where civilians are present among opposing forces.

However, by lowering the threshold for violent conflict and diminishing its consequences, nonlethal weapons may paradoxically encourage the outbreak of violence in some circumstances.

The new military manual seeks to preempt confusion about the proper role of nonlethal weapons while promoting their use when suitable. The manual also identifies the NLW capabilities that are currently available for use in each of the military services.

"The existence of NLW does not represent the potential for 'nonlethal war,' and unrealistic expectations to that effect must be vigorously avoided," the document states. "NLW provide a wider range of options that augment, but do not replace, traditional means of deadly force."

Among their presumed advantages, "NLW can facilitate post-incident stabilization by reducing populace alienation and collateral damage."

"NLW can reduce the possibility of injury to friendly forces."

"NLW have relatively reversible effects compared to lethal weapons."

The new manual on nonlethal weapons has not been approved for public release. But a copy was obtained by Secrecy News.

See "Multi-Service Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for the Tactical Employment of Nonlethal Weapons," U.S. Army Field Manual FM 3-22.40, October 24, 2007 (154 pages, 4.5 MB PDF file):

We have deleted one illustration on page III-34 because it is copyrighted.


An Iranian religious leader reiterated last week that not only is Iran not pursuing nuclear weapons, but that to do so would be a violation of Islamic law.

"Production of nuclear bomb and even thinking on its production are forbidden from Islamic point of view," said Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani in his Friday sermon at the Tehran University campus.

See "Ayat. Kashani: N-bomb production religiously forbidden," Islamic Republic News Agency, November 9:

It has previously been reported that a "fatwa" or religious decree against nuclear weapons was issued by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. But as far as is known, no text of such a fatwa has ever been published to substantiate these reports. See "Iran's Missing Anti-Nuclear Fatwa," Secrecy News, August 11, 2005:

Meanwhile, open source information on Iran's ballistic missile programs was surveyed in a brief new report from the Congressional Research Service.

"Today, there is little disagreement among most experts that Iran has acquired some number of ballistic missiles from other countries and has developed other ballistic missiles indigenously or in cooperation with others," according to CRS.

"At the same time, however, there has been considerable public disagreement over precisely what kinds of ballistic missile systems Iran has or is developing. This is because there is little transparency in Iran's ballistic missile programs, which has led to a lack of confidence in Iran's public assertions."

"Finally, details about Iranian ballistic missile programs remain classified in the United States. Because of the secrecy inherent in the development of weapon systems, especially in less open societies, open-source analyses reflect a wide range of technical views."

See "Iran's Ballistic Missile Programs: An Overview," November 8, 2007:


Secrecy News will resume publication the week of November 26.


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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