According to leaked documents posted online by Daniel Ellsberg of the "Pentagon Papers", US military officials pressed for nuclear attacks on mainland China in 1958 to defend Taiwan from a Communist invasion.
The paper, first reported by the New York Times, reads that US military planners also expected that the Soviet Union would help China and retaliate with nuclear weapons, a price they considered worth paying to defend Taiwan.
Ellsberg, a former military analyst, released the confidential section of a top-secret paper on the situation that had already been partly declassified in 1975.
Now at the age of 90, Ellsberg is best remembered for leaking the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret Pentagon report on the Vietnam War, to the American press in 1971.
Ellsberg told the Times that he copied the top-secret Taiwan crisis report in the early 1970s, and is publishing it as tensions mount between the United States and China over Taiwan.
Had an invasion taken place, General Nathan Twining, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time, "made it clear that the United States would have used nuclear weapons against Chinese air bases to prevent a successful air interdiction campaign," the document's authors wrote.