(BRUSSELS) -- If the Obama administration is forced to invoke the "zero option" in Afghanistan, it also means there'll be zero NATO troops in the country after 2014.
NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen made that promise during a briefing in Brussels Tuesday as he strongly urged Afghan President Hamid Karzai to stop hedging and sign the Bilateral Security Agreement with the U.S.
While the White House wants the pact finalized by the end of December, Karzai is talking about letting Afghanistan's new leaders work out a deal with the U.S. following next April's elections.
The longer Karzai holds off on signing, the more likely the U.S. will turn to the "zero option." Instead of leaving up to 10,000 American soldiers to serve as trainers, it would mean virtually all U.S. troops will leave Afghanistan after 2014.
Should that happen, according to Rasmussen, "It will not be possible to deploy, train, advise, assist the mission to Afghanistan after 2014." NATO is projecting to leave as many as 12,000 troops behind, provided the BSA is approved.
Although Karzai has a number of preconditions before he signs on to the plan, the U.S. and its allies may hold the biggest bargaining chip of all: without the BSA, all the financial support pledged by the international community will be cut off as well.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio