"Though we have acheived progress, our work is not over. That is why I support the mission of the Arms Control Association. It is, quite simply, the most effective and important organization working in the field today." 

– Larry Weiler
Former U.S.-Russian arms control negotiator
August 7, 2018

Arming Dictators, Rewarding Proliferators

Daryl G. Kimball

Last year, Pakistani leader Gen. Pervez Musharraf pardoned his former nuclear weapons program chief Abdul Qadeer Khan for masterminding a global black market trade that delivered advanced nuclear weapons technology to Libya, Iran, and North Korea. For more than a decade, the Khan network secretly transferred some of the most sensitive technology, including uranium-enrichment devices and, in the case of Libya, even design and engineering plans for nuclear bombs.

U.S. officials claim there is no evidence of official Pakistani government involvement, but they also acknowledge they still do not understand the full extent of the Khan network or whether it is shut down. New evidence has recently emerged that Pakistan continues to advance its own nuclear program through illegal means.

Yet, even as Musharraf continues to shield Khan from outside interrogation, President George W. Bush announced last month that he wants to supply Pakistan with F-16 jets to facilitate Musharraf's continued support in fighting al Qaeda. As a counterbalance, Bush has held out the possibility of selling advanced fighter jets and missile defenses to Pakistan's longtime rival, India.

The Bush administration's F-16 decision not only symbolizes Washington's abandonment of meaningful efforts to curb Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, but it contributes to the escalating South Asian arms race. The move further undermines the credibility of Bush's nonproliferation policies and global efforts to reinforce the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which neither India nor Pakistan have joined.

U.S. policymakers first began to overlook Islamabad's nuclear activities when they sought Pakistan's support to counter the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. But with the end of the Cold War and the steady advance of the Pakistani bomb effort, Washington began to condition its support in order to push Pakistan toward a more responsible nuclear policy.

It was President George H. W. Bush who, in 1990, stopped earlier deliveries of F-16s to Pakistan by invoking the U.S. law that blocks military assistance to Pakistan if it acquires nuclear weapons. At least three years earlier, Pakistan had completed its quest to build the bomb with the help of Khan's clandestine network and foreign technology.

Following India and Pakistan's 1998 nuclear tests, Washington imposed further sanctions and urged the nuclear rivals to refrain from deploying their arsenals, join the nuclear test ban treaty, halt the production of fissile material, and improve export controls. Although India and Pakistan waited out the sanctions and resisted most of the U.S. arms control overtures, these and earlier nonproliferation efforts tempered the South Asian arms race.

The current U.S. policy favoring South Asian arms procurement rather than restraint is based on the erroneous assumptions that the nuclear rivalry can be managed and U.S. military technology is needed to buy "strategic partnerships" with New Delhi and Islamabad. Under this formula, Indian and Pakistani nuclear forces will be neither minimal nor stable. Certain U.S. arms transfers can lead each side to make countermove after countermove.

Pakistan says the F-16s will help it close the conventional weapons gap with India. However, Pakistan will likely outfit its new F-16s with nuclear weapons and base them in hardened shelters to reduce the vulnerability of its nuclear-armed forces to Indian air attacks. India, in turn, will surely seek U.S. assistance to improve its early warning and air strike capabilities.

India's strategic doctrine already calls for deploying a larger number of nuclear weapons on missiles, submarines, and aircraft, in part to counter Pakistan's nuclear-capable missile force. Future U.S. missile defense cooperation with India would likely prompt Pakistan to deploy a larger number of its nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.

As Indian and Pakistani nuclear weapons capabilities have increased, crises have persisted and the consequences of war have grown. Although tensions between India and Pakistan have eased, it was as recently as 2002 that the two states were on the verge of their fourth war. The United States has a strategic interest in maintaining close relations with both India and Pakistan, but it can and should do so without exacerbating their nuclear arms buildup.

Although Khan may be under house arrest, there are disturbing signs that the regime continues to use the black market to improve its nuclear capability. An ongoing U.S. Department of Commerce investigation has found that in 2003 a front company with close ties to the Pakistani government made clandestine purchases of U.S. high-tech components used in nuclear weapons in violation of U.S. laws.

Pakistan's support for anti-terrorism can be maintained without sacrificing the effort to stop the spread of the world's most dangerous weapons. The United States should use its aid to support Pakistan's economic and political development and should condition further military assistance on Islamabad's support for nuclear restraint. At a minimum, U.S. officials must leverage aid to win full cooperation from Pakistan in stopping nuclear smuggling and to certify that it has finally ended all black market nuclear activity.


Turning a Blind Eye Again? The Khan Network's History and Lessons for U.S. Policy

Leonard Weiss

A little more than one year ago, the world learned that Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan had provided nuclear-weapons-related technology to a number of countries, including North Korea, Iran, and Libya. Yet, the revelations could hardly have come as a surprise: the supply network was used by Pakistan over the past 25 years to obtain technology, components, and materials for its own nuclear weapons.

Far more remarkable was that, although Khan’s activities had been tracked by U.S. intelligence for more than two decades, little attempt had been made to roll up the network he created. Rather than focusing on this profound long-term strategic danger to national security, the United States had chosen to pursue short-term, tactical foreign policy gains with Pakistan.

This misguided policy approach continues today as the Bush administration has chosen to subordinate nonproliferation goals, including fully breaking apart the Khan network, to the short-term goal of building a relationship with Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. The president has also not proposed a long-term strategy to prevent a similar network from popping up in the future.

A Checkered History
The U.S.-Pakistani relationship has a checkered history: U.S. interests for most of Pakistan’s history have been driven by Cold War considerations, while Pakistan’s interests have been driven by fear of India and the fate of the contested province of Kashmir.

For the United States, Pakistan’s strategic geographical position in South Asia was an obstacle to Soviet access to the Arabian Sea and Moscow’s political designs in the Middle East generally. India, on the other hand, was more sympathetic to Moscow as India’s ruling party was ideologically oriented toward a socialist model of economic development. In 1954, the United States and Pakistan signed a mutual defense agreement. A year later, Pakistan acceded to the U.S.-backed South East Asia Treaty Organization as well as the Central Treaty Organization, formerly known as the Baghdad Pact. In 1959, a U.S.-Pakistani military cooperation agreement took effect.

By 1959, the Pakistani government had effectively ceded remote areas of its northern provinces to the CIA and the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) for the collection of intelligence on Soviet activities. From these facilities, the United States eavesdropped on Soviet nuclear facilities in Kazakhstan.[1] Secret bases in the Peshawar area were used for U-2 flights over the Soviet Union.[2] Despite this, U.S. relations with Pakistan were not stable. During and immediately after the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pakistani wars, the United States suspended military assistance to both sides, causing a cooling of the Pakistani-U.S. relationship.

Meanwhile, the USSR-China split and the Sino-Indo border war of 1962 created conditions for China and Pakistan to pursue a closer relationship, which flourished despite U.S. concerns. The relationship deepened as China provided assistance to Pakistan during the U.S. military embargo.[3]

U.S. assistance to Pakistan was restored in 1975 but was cut off again in 1979 when Pakistan imported nuclear enrichment and reprocessing technology following enactment of the Symington[4] and Glenn[5] amendments to the Foreign Assistance Act.

This cutoff did not last long. The mujahideen, a group of Islamic warriors, or jihadists, had taken up arms in revolt against the Soviet-backed Afghanistan government that was attempting to bring some secularization to Afghan society (via, e.g., a literacy campaign for girls, the banning of dowries for brides, and legislated freedom of choice in marriage). The United States saw this as an opportunity to destabilize the Communist government by covertly assisting the mujahideen through the Pakistani Intelligence Service (ISI). The presidential “finding” approving the covert program was signed in July 1979, and the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in December, rendering prescient a prediction made in writing by then-national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski to President Jimmy Carter that the Soviets would react in this way to the U.S. aid.[6] Once the invasion began, Brzezinski sent Carter another message on December 26, 1979, saying, “This will require a review of our policy toward Pakistan, more guarantees to it, and, alas, a decision that our security policy toward Pakistan cannot be dictated by our nonproliferation policy.”[7]

In addition to undercutting a key U.S. nonproliferation pillar, the assistance to the mujahideen also boosted Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism, including the rise of the Taliban and al Qaeda. It was not the last time that an overemphasis on short-term, tactical foreign policy considerations would lead to long-term damage to U.S. national security.

Still, in the context of the Cold War, Carter’s policy was backed by much of the foreign policy establishment, including by President Ronald Reagan when he took office in 1981. The Reagan administration pushed through a $3.2 billion economic and military assistance package for Pakistan with a legislated six-year waiver of the sanctions against Pakistan for its nuclear violations. Such waivers were extended, and assistance for the mujahideen via Pakistan continued until the Soviets began to withdraw from Afghanistan in 1988.

The Origins of the Khan Network
During all of that time, the policy of assistance to the mujahideen was accompanied by a consciously adopted “blind eye” to the Pakistani nuclear program that allowed Khan to obtain all the technology, materials, and equipment needed to build nuclear weapons. In 1984, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Dean Hinton wrote in a classified evaluation letter on the work of CIA station chief Howard Hart, “Collection efforts on the Pakistani effort to develop nuclear weapons is amazingly resourceful and disturbing. I would sleep better if he and his people did not find out so much about what is really going on in secret and contrary to President Zia’s assurances to us.”[8]

The passage of laws in 1985 designed to sanction Pakistan if it was found either to possess the bomb (the Pressler amendment)[9] or attempt to export nuclear-weapon-related materials or equipment from the United States illegally (the Solarz amendment)[10] were rendered ineffective.[11]

To build his bomb, Khan initially stole centrifuge designs and a list of about 100 suppliers of centrifuge parts and materials from the URENCO uranium-enrichment facility in the Netherlands. From Pakistan, he began his shopping spree. He received materials from Africa and components and advanced machinery from Europe, with shipments and payments directed through the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The trade involved firms or agents in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, South Africa, Switzerland, and Turkey, among others. “They literally begged us to buy their equipment,” Khan said in a 2001 publication celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Kahuta laboratory that now bears his name.[12] Businessmen flocked to Pakistan to offer high-tech equipment for what they had to know was a Pakistani bomb program.

The United States was hardly unaware of this. The NSA was routinely intercepting faxes and telexes from high-tech firms in Germany and Switzerland looking for a Pakistani nuclear connection,[13] and they were aware of assistance coming from firms in Turkey. Indeed, dozens of démarches were issued to the Turkish government during the late 1970s and 1980s protesting ongoing shipments of electrical components—many of them made in the United States—to Pakistan. Turkey claimed that its export laws were insufficient to allow the government to interfere with such trade. After some time, Turkey passed a stronger export control law, but its enforcement was feeble. Additionally, the U.S. government refused to acknowledge the Turkish role officially because doing so would have required the cutoff of military assistance to an important NATO ally.

Warnings about the dangers of the Pakistani program were being constantly and publicly issued during this period, most prominently by Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio). In speeches, op-eds, and congressional testimony, Glenn warned that Pakistani nuclear weapons development, if not stopped, would lead to weapons technology finding its way to the Middle East, particularly to Iran.[14] It was a natural deduction to make: intelligence reports contained evidence of a Pakistani/Iranian nuclear cooperation agreement, and news reports quoted intelligence sources saying that Saudi Arabia and Libya were helping to finance the Pakistani bomb. These warnings had little effect on the Reagan or George H. W. Bush administrations, who did all they could to keep Congress in the dark about the details of the Pakistani program.

The Pressler amendment was not invoked until 1990, after the Soviets had left Afghanistan and despite intelligence that Pakistan had manufactured their first weapon nearly three years earlier. According to former deputy CIA director Richard Kerr, Pakistan had the bomb by 1987.[15] When then-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto visited the United States in 1989, she was told that the determination of “no possession” made that year would be the last one.[16]

Yet, there is little evidence that any of Khan’s suppliers were shut down at the time. Khan realized that he could use the network he had created, now also including Pakistan’s nuclear infrastructure, to enable other countries with nuclear ambitions to obtain critical components and materials for their own weapon programs, with Pakistan (and Khan) reaping large rewards in the process.

Marketing Khan’s Wares
Khan established his laboratory’s technical bona fides by having his scientists publish papers and reports, beginning in the late 1980s, on the design, construction, and testing of centrifuges.[17] These papers contained just enough details to make them credible without providing a blueprint for others to replicate the Pakistan machines. It was at about that time that Iranian scientists began receiving training in Pakistan (1988) and assistance for Iran’s centrifuge program in 1989. The Khan laboratory began publishing brochures, distributed at arms fairs, advertising equipment for sale that was useful in the construction and operation of centrifuges, including vacuum devices to enable rotors to spin in relatively frictionless chambers.[18]

The Khan laboratory was not the only one, however, touting sales and delivery of equipment useful for nuclear-enrichment purposes. In 1999, following its nuclear-weapon tests the previous year, the Pakistani government put out its own advertisement of procedures for the export of nuclear equipment and components. The ad also listed equipment for sale, including “gas centrifuges and magnet baffles for the separation of uranium isotopes.”[19] Musharraf later stated that the Pakistani government was not aware of nuclear transfers arranged via Khan or his laboratory.

The ads had the desired effect. Other countries began viewing Pakistan as a source for building nuclear weapons. Khan was contacted and began selling off surplus centrifuges and components.[20] Shipments were sometimes made using official government cargo planes to middlemen in other countries, who were used to disguise the origin of the cargo. Khan later arranged for parts to be ordered through his middlemen and to be delivered directly from his network sources. The spectrum of supplies that could be provided by the network included older and advanced centrifuges, bomb design (based on the original Chinese design given to Pakistan in 1983), electronic components, and advanced materials. The network also provided logistical and technical assistance. The network involved suppliers or middlemen located in a dozen countries, including Turkey, Malaysia, the UAE, Japan, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, the United States, Germany, Canada, South Africa, and Pakistan.

The sales were not only producing funds for support of Khan’s laboratory; they were also helping Pakistan in its development of missile capability, a program that was run out of the Khan laboratory as well. For years, North Korea had been selling missiles to Pakistan. Pakistan had been paying cash for the missiles but ran into a foreign currency reserves crunch around 1996.[21] At that point, it is believed, the North Koreans agreed to a barter transaction involving the provision of centrifuges in exchange for missiles. Khan has apparently made at least 13 visits to North Korea over the past decade that were known to U.S. intelligence.[22] Some reports suggest that North Korea and Iran (and Iraq prior to Operation Desert Storm) may have obtained uranium-melting information from Pakistan in the late 1980s.

In fact, Iran is believed to have been the first customer of Pakistan/Khan nuclear sales. A centrifuge sale took place around 1987, probably pursuant to the 1986 nuclear cooperation agreement between the two countries. The precise origin of the Pakistani-Iranian nuclear connection is unclear and includes speculation that then-army chief Aslam Beg saw such cooperation as a way to finance Pakistan’s defense budget.[23] In any event, it apparently ended in the mid-1990s as a result of the civil war in Afghanistan.

Still, the help that Iran received from the Khan network, including advanced (P-2) centrifuge designs,[24] and the transfer of these and other technologies has helped lead to Iran’s emergence as a relatively near-term nuclear proliferation threat. In buying Khan’s wares, Iran took advantage of Article IV of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which made a just-under-the-threshold nuclear weapons program feasible and legal for an NPT signatory; facilitated a demand for nuclear-related components and equipment for such a program; and made it worthwhile for many high-tech companies, factories, and shippers to meet the demand.

Under Article IV, all states-parties to the NPT, including Iran and Libya, have the “inalienable right to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II.” Also, under Article IV, all states have “the right to participate in the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.” This language allows a party of the NPT in good standing to develop the means to produce highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium—key nuclear weapons materials that also have civilian uses—and stockpile them without limit as long as they are placed under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.

Iran clearly desires to develop a facility capable of manufacturing HEU and may plan to escape ultimately from the NPT by invoking Article X. That article allows a party’s withdrawal without penalty by giving three months’ notice and declaring, with an explanation, that “extraordinary events, related to the subject matter of the treaty, have jeopardized [its] supreme interests.” Iran, which has agreed under pressure to suspend its nuclear enrichment development, is in violation of its safeguards commitments by not having informed the IAEA of equipment and materials it had either received from Khan or produced indigenously. The IAEA has taken the position thus far that the violations are technical in nature, not yet calling for referral to the UN Security Council.

9/11 and the Khan Network
The exposure of the Khan network resulted from its dealings with Libya, which began in the early 1990s. In October 2003, a German cargo ship, the BBC China, was intercepted at sea on its way to Tripoli and brought to an Italian port, where its cargo of components for 1,000 high-speed centrifuges were confiscated. The parts were made in Malaysia and shipped through the Middle East. The subsequent investigation by the IAEA resulted in a decision by Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi to dismantle his illegal nuclear program and provide transparency to his interactions with the Khan network. Among the revelations was the startling fact that the Libyans had received an early Pakistani-Chinese nuclear weapon design, suggesting that weapon designs were now in play in the international nuclear black market.

Musharraf, under pressure from the United States, forced Khan to “retire” but still pardoned him for his transgressions. Musharraf has refused to make Khan available for interrogation, but some have suggested that, as a quid pro quo for U.S. forbearance, Pakistan may have passed back some information to the U.S. government concerning the Khan network’s assistance to Iran and perhaps elsewhere.[25]

According to a briefing given to Pakistani journalists on February 1, 2004, by Lieutenant General Khalid Kidwai, commander of Pakistan’s Strategic Planning and Development Cell, Khan signed a 12-page confession in which he admitted to providing Iran, Libya, and North Korea with technical assistance and components for making high-speed centrifuges used to produce enriched uranium.[26] In addition, according to three of the 20 Pakistani journalists who attended the briefing, Khan was defending himself by saying that he was pressured to sell nuclear technologies by two (now deceased) individuals associated with Bhutto,[27] that nuclear assistance to Iran was approved by then-army chief Beg, and that the deal with North Korea was supported by two former army chiefs, one of whom is now Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States.[28] Musharraf has also served as army chief. An independent interrogation of Khan and an investigation by the IAEA should be carried out to verify these claims.

Also requiring further investigation are the serious indications of possible nuclear collaboration involving Khan with Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt[29] and visits by Khan and his associates to Chad, Mali, Nigeria, Niger, and Sudan. Much more precise information is also needed regarding the trafficking routes used by Khan’s network for deliveries. Sea routes were used to deliver centrifuge components to Libya and Iran. Both sea and air were used to deliver missiles from North Korea to Pakistan, and both land and air were used to send uranium-enrichment equipment from Pakistan to North Korea.[30] The extent of available routes makes tracking such shipments a daunting task.

The reach of the Khan network in today’s technological environment strongly suggests that the arrests and administrative actions taken by various governments have not fully shut down the network or made it impossible to reconstitute interrupted sources of supply. We have also yet to draw appropriate lessons from the history of our involvement with Pakistan and the Khan network.

Lessons Not Learned
Khan’s downfall came soon after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks led to a renewed U.S. relationship with Pakistan. When the United States decided to bring down the Taliban government for hosting Osama bin Laden, it turned to its old friends in Pakistan who had long provided the Taliban with crucial assistance. Under U.S. pressure, Musharraf reversed course and supported the U.S.-led military operation against his former allies.

That move and Musharraf’s current assistance in the hunt for bin Laden has resulted in his being amply rewarded. He has received the lifting of all nonproliferation sanctions and the beginning of a multibillion-dollar aid program, despite his refusal to give up Khan to the IAEA for interrogation. Even another case of a Pakistani agent allegedly attempting to smuggle nuclear-related electronic components out of the United States has had no effect on our current cozy relationship with Musharraf, who presides over a military containing elements friendly to Islamic revolutionary fundamentalism. It is the “blind eye” redux, but with the Cold War replaced by the war on terrorism. Of course, this time there is an added peril: who will gain control of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons should Musharraf fall?

One lesson we should have learned from the history of our relations with Pakistan is that taking nonproliferation off the table in favor of pursuing other foreign policy goals may not help you achieve those goals, but will almost certainly result in proliferation. That does not mean that engagement with proliferators or potential proliferators is to be avoided. Rather, it means that engagement should be pursued with an objective of preventing, halting, or at least capping proliferation.

Although each case of proliferation has its own unique elements that must inform both bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, if a “norm” is to be respected, there should be consequences for a proliferator if all attempts at diplomacy have failed. This is the most obvious gap in the nonproliferation system: there is no international consensus on the penalties to which a proliferator ought to be subjected. Pakistan has escaped significant penalties despite its horrific proliferation record.

Being able to catch potential proliferators may be of little consequence if there is no agreement on what to do afterward, but catching proliferators early is also crucial if there is to be an effective nonproliferation regime. That requires an integrated, worldwide, intelligence operation, with a substantial human intelligence capability.

An effective regime also requires constant review and improvement of export controls. The Khan network has made it imperative that export controls be applied to smaller specialized components than is currently the case. This evolution is particularly important in the case of fuel cycle facilities.

Khan’s ties with Iran and other countries point to another necessary remedy: the need to establish a new global norm regarding the use of nuclear energy. A new nuclear compact along that line should state that all new, major nuclear facilities are to be multinationally owned and operated. This is not as radical as it may seem; indeed, the Acheson-Lilienthal recommendations on nuclear control right after World War II proposed international ownership of the most dangerous nuclear facilities.[31] More recently, IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei has proposed an idea along this line but limited to new fuel-cycle and waste disposal facilities.[32] Nuclear reactors themselves would not be included in his proposal.

President George W. Bush has a different proposal to limit fuel cycle facilities. In a Feb. 11, 2004, speech, he proposed a ban on assistance by members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group for the construction of new enrichment and reprocessing facilities in countries not currently possessing such plants.[33] He did not back this up with a proposal for sanctions against those suppliers who would violate such a ban.

In his remarks, Bush also called on nuclear exporters to ensure that states have reliable access at reasonable cost to civilian nuclear fuel if they renounce enrichment and reprocessing. It is unclear if Bush is aware that one version of this proposal has been part of U.S. law for more than 25 years. Title I of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Act (NNPA) of 1978 calls on the president to work with other countries to create an International Nuclear Fuel Authority (INFA) to guarantee nuclear enrichment services to non-nuclear-weapon states that agree not to build enrichment and reprocessing plants. There is some irony here because it has been reported that the president is opposed to the idea of international consortia in this arena.[34]

The president proclaimed correctly that “enrichment and reprocessing are not necessary for nations seeking to harness nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.” Further, the administration has supported crafting a treaty, albeit without verification measures, to cut off production of fissile material for weapons. (See ACT, September 2004.) Neither Bush nor his aides, however, have called for a universal fissile material cutoff treaty that would end production of those materials in military and civilian facilities. Nor has Bush said that the United States should seek to amend its nuclear agreements with other countries to bar the reprocessing of U.S.-origin spent fuel for plutonium extraction.

A sensible extension of the president’s remarks about fuel cycle facilities would be to propose that nations should only seek nuclear energy when it is cost-effective for them to do so. This suggests that, instead of the Atoms for Peace program, which formed the foundation of the NPT, it would be more sensible from a security standpoint to begin an “Energy for Peace” program that would include cooperative assistance in energy planning to help determine the best, most efficient mix of energy technologies for individual countries. This idea was also made part of U.S. law in Title V of the NNPA but, as with an INFA, has yet to be implemented. Under an “energy for peace” philosophy, nuclear energy would only be used if it competed economically with alternative sources, taking into account environmental and other costs, including security.

Ultimately, the best insurance against the emergence of future Khan networks is the elimination of nations’ motivations for seeking nuclear weapons. The president stated that nuclear weapons “will not bring security or international prestige.” That is unfortunately not the way many view those weapons, including many in the president’s own administration, but the elimination of nuclear weapons is an appropriate goal to pursue. The nuclear-weapon states could take the first steps by a more forceful implementation of their own commitments under the NPT to make good faith efforts toward nuclear disarmament.


1. Seymour Hersh, “On the Nuclear Edge,” The New Yorker, March 29, 1993.

2. Ibid.

3. Jamshed Nazar, “A History of U.S.-Pakistan Relations,” Chowk, November 22, 2004.

4. The 1976 Symington amendment provided that any non-nuclear-weapon state importing or exporting unsafe, guarded enrichment materials, equipment, or technology would be prohibited from receiving U.S. economic or military assistance under the Foreign Assistance Act or the Arms Export Control Act. Pakistan’s importation of unsafeguarded nuclear materials and equipment for its Kahuta enrichment facility triggered the cutoff of U.S. assistance.

5. The 1977 Glenn amendment extended the Symington prohibitions and penalties to the import or export of reprocessing technology, materials, or equipment by a non-nuclear-weapon state regardless of whether safeguards are attached. It also prohibited the explosion of a nuclear device. Pakistan was in violation of this amendment as well. Both amendments contained presidential waiver authority, but the conditions for exercise of the waiver under the Symington amendment required the receipt of “reliable assurances” that no nuclear weapon was being developed. As a result, legislation was required to allow a waiver for Pakistan, whose assurances were not deemed reliable.

6. Brzezinski revealed this in a 1998 interview with Le Nouvel Observateur.

7. See Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden (New York: Penguin Press, 2004).

8. Ibid.

9. The Pressler amendment required that, in order for Pakistan to receive economic or military assistance in any fiscal year, the president had to certify a priori that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear explosive device and that the U.S. assistance program would reduce significantly the risk that Pakistan would possess such a device. Pakistan’s continued progress on the bomb in the face of U.S. assistance meant that it was in violation of the Pressler amendment from the first subsequent delivery of U.S. assistance, but the Department of State essentially refused to implement the law, insisting that there was no difference between the “possession” test and the “risk” test. This refusal continued until the Soviets left Afghanistan.

10. The Solarz amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act prohibited military and economic assistance to any non-nuclear-weapon state that illegally exports or attempts to export nuclear-related items from the United States that would contribute significantly to the ability of that state to manufacture a nuclear explosive device. A presidential waiver of penalties was included.

11. When a Pakistani agent was caught violating the Solarz amendment, President Ronald Reagan imposed the penalty and then immediately issued another waiver to remove it. In another case, the violator was treated as if he was an independent contractor with no connection to the Pakistani government, despite irrefutable evidence to the contrary.

12. William J. Broad, David E. Sanger, and Raymond Bonner, “A Tale of Nuclear Proliferation: How Pakistani Built His Network,” The New York Times, February 12, 2004.

13. Hersh, “On the Nuclear Edge.”

14. See John Glenn, “Pakistan’s Bomb and the Mujahedin,” The Washington Post, November 4, 1987.

15. Hersh, “On the Nuclear Edge.”

16. Ibid.

17. David E. Sanger, “The Khan Network,” Paper presented at the Conference on South Asia and the Nuclear Future, CISAC, Stanford University, June 4, 2004.

18. Ibid.

19. Sharon Squassoni, “Weapons of Mass Destruction: Trade Between North Korea and Pakistan,” CRS Report for Congress, RL31900, May 7, 2003.

20. Broad, Sanger, and Bonner, “A Tale of Nuclear Proliferation.”

21. Squassoni, “Weapons of Mass Destruction.”

22. Seymour Hersh, “The Cold Test,” The New Yorker, January 27, 2003.

23. Gaurav Kampani, “Proliferation Unbound: Nuclear Tales From Pakistan,” Report for Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute for International Studies, February 23, 2004.

24. International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors, “Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran: Report by the Director General,” GOV/2004/83, November 15, 2004.

25. See Seymour Hersh, “The Coming Wars,” The New Yorker, January 24 and 31, 2005.

26. John Lancaster and Kamran Khan, “Musharraf Named in Nuclear Probe,” The Washington Post, February 3, 2004.

27. David Rohde, “Pakistanis Question Official Ignorance of Atom Transfers,” The New York Times, February 2, 2004.

28. Lancaster and Khan, “Musharraf Named in Nuclear Probe.”

29. Christopher Clary, “A.Q. Khan and the Limits of the Nonproliferation Regime,” The Disarmament Forum, 2004.

30. Andrew Prosser, “Nuclear Trafficking Routes: Dangerous Trends in Southern Asia,” Center for Defense Information, Washington, DC, November 22, 2004.

31. “Report on the International Control of Atomic Energy,” Washington, DC, March 16, 1946.

32. Mohamed ElBaradei, “In Search of Security: Finding an Alternative to Nuclear Deterrence,” Presented at CISAC, Stanford University, November 4, 2004.

33. Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, “President Announces New Measures to Counter the Threat of WMD,” February 11, 2004.

34. See Carla A. Robbins, “Nuclear Nonproliferation Effort Snags,” The Wall Street Journal, January 27, 2005.

Leonard Weiss has worked on nonproliferation issues and legislation for nearly 30 years as a consultant and former staff director of the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. He was a chief architect of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Act of 1978.

U.S.-Pakistani F-16 Deal Up in the Air

Wade Boese

U.S. and Pakistani officials are denying claims by a senior Pakistani military commander that Washington is about to fulfill Islamabad’s long-stymied and controversial quest for advanced U.S. combat aircraft.

Pakistani Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Saadat told reporters in September that the United States would soon meet Pakistan’s 15-year-old push for F-16 fighters, providing at least 18 of the planes. In a subsequent interview with Jane’s Defence Weekly, Saadat said the transfers would probably be announced after next month’s U.S. presidential election.

Saadat appears alone in his certainty. Several Americans and Pakistanis, including government representatives of each country, told Arms Control Today that they were not aware of any ongoing negotiations or said no agreement had been reached.

If such an agreement were reached, it would end an impasse that began in 1990 when the U.S. government stopped a shipment of 28 F-16s to Pakistan in accordance with a U.S. law, known as the Pressler amendment after former Sen. Larry Pressler (R-S.D.), proscribing military exports to Islamabad if it was suspected of possessing a “nuclear explosive device.” Pakistan later publicly confirmed its possession of such a capability by responding to May 1998 nuclear tests by India with blasts of its own.

A senior administration official interviewed Oct. 7 said there is “no decision at any level of the U.S. government to provide F-16s to Pakistan.” A spokesman for the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which oversees U.S. government arms sales to other countries, stated Sept. 22, “[A]s far as we know, a decision has not been made.” Congressional staffers also said they have not been informed of any completed or imminent deal.

The most that a top U.S. government official has said publicly is that such a sale is a possibility. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said in a Sept. 29 interview with a Pakistani television station that F-16s are “still on the table.…We’ve had discussions with the Pakistani authorities about these matters, and I’ll just leave it right there.”

A Pakistani diplomat said in an Oct. 5 interview with Arms Control Today that Islamabad has inquired about buying F-16s. Yet, the official said that no formal talks were underway and the only encouraging signs about American intentions were coming from outside the U.S. government.

Lockheed Martin Corp. spokesperson Joe Stout declined to comment Oct. 7 on the rumored deal, saying it was a government-to-government matter. Lockheed Martin makes the F-16 and supplied 40 of the aircraft to Pakistan between 1983 and 1987 when the country was actively working with the United States to help oust Soviet forces from Afghanistan.

The prospect that F-16 sales might resume became more of a reality after restrictions on arms transfers to Pakistan were swept aside days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and its enlistment as a key U.S. ally in the war on terrorism. (See ACT, October 2001.)

Since waiving the sanctions, the Bush administration has approved several arms agreements with Pakistan, including exports of helicopters, cargo aircraft, night vision equipment, radios, and various radar systems. It also paved the way for Pakistan to have greater opportunities to acquire excess U.S. arms by designating Pakistan a major non-NATO ally this past June.

Despite these actions, one congressional staffer who works on foreign policy issues said Oct. 13 that a resumption of F-16 exports to Pakistan would be a “huge line to cross” because it could have repercussions for all of South Asia.

India has protested past U.S. arms sales to its neighbor, and an Indian government official interviewed Oct. 12 said New Delhi has specifically objected to the potential transfer of F-16s. The official explained that India does not see any role for F-16s in the fight against terrorism, but suspects that Pakistan views the fighters as better suited for its rivalry with India. “It has been our experience that whenever new weapons systems arrive in Pakistan, [the Pakistani army and intelligence service] become more aggressive and intransigent,” the official commented. Such a turn of events, according to the official, could spell trouble for a recent upswing in the Indo-Pakistani relationship. (See ACT, September 2004.)

Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), who founded a congressional caucus in support of India, voiced these same concerns in a Sept. 23 letter to President George W. Bush. Pallone denounced a possible F-16 deal as “bad policy” and further charged the administration with “contributing to increased security concerns throughout South Asia, and particularly to India.”

The Bush administration has proposed a $3 billion package evenly split between military and economic assistance to Pakistan over a five-year period. Congress has yet to vote on the president’s aid request, which is included as part of the fiscal year 2005 foreign operations appropriations bill.

India and Pakistan Set Missile Talks

Ianitza T. Ianachkova

India and Pakistan are moving forward in their plan to build on recent diplomatic exchanges conducted between the two Southeast Asian rivals since the new Indian government assumed power in May.

Experts from both countries will meet Dec. 14-15 in Islamabad to discuss a draft agreement for early notification of missile tests, among other confidence-building measures.

The December agreements are expected to build on previous commitments between the two nations, such as the establishment of a hotline between the two chains of command as well as a continuation of the 1998 bilateral moratorium on further nuclear tests. (See ACT, July/August 2004.)

In the meantime, the countries have hardly paused in showing off their military prowess. India reportedly tested its nuclear-capable Prithvi missile Oct. 27 on the heels of Pakistan’s Oct. 12 test of its nuclear-capable medium-range Ghauri missile. The test follows a series of missile tests conducted by each country since May. (See ACT, September 2004.)

Both countries said they were notified of the tests.

Pakistan Advances Export Controls

Gabrielle Kohlmeier and Miles A. Pomper


Pakistan’s Senate Sept. 18 approved export control legislation intended to strengthen current measures to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The bill is expected to be signed into law by Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf shortly.

Movement on the export control bill comes as the United States eased controls on dual-use space- and nuclear-related exports to Pakistan’s nuclear rival, India.

The bill is an effort by Pakistan to assuage concerns after Abdul Qadeer Khan revealed in February that he had passed nuclear technology to Iran and Libya, among others. (See ACT, March 2004.) Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear program, was pardoned by Musharraf. The legislation as passed will not apply retroactively, even though Pakistani officials had claimed that the bill could affect that pardon. (See ACT, September 2004.)

Under the Pakistani legislation, those convicted of proliferating materials relating to nuclear and biological weapons technology and missile delivery systems will face up to 14 years in prison and up to $85,000 in fines. Federal agencies will be empowered to hold any material delineated by the bill meant for export and will also have the power to inspect shipments and confiscate records of people involved in the export. The bill also stipulates that Islamabad may investigate government officials for any alleged violations and arrest perpetrators.

In passing the bill, Pakistan’s lower house, the National Assembly, rejected amendments put forth by members of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), the main opposition party. Some members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz voiced concerns that the bill could limit Pakistan’s nuclear program, but MMA objections were more concerned about procedural changes undertaken to get the legislation approved.

With Musharraf’s supporters in control of the Senate, the bill also passed that house, but not without further complaints from opponents. Members of opposition parties accused the government of rushing the bill through both houses so that it would be passed into law in time for Musharraf’s meetings with President George W. Bush on the sidelines of the meeting of the UN General Assembly. MMA representative Ghafoor Ahmed claimed that, even with the passage of this legislation, the United States will not be satisfied with Pakistan’s nuclear policies.

Members of the government, however, maintained steadfast support for the bill. Pakistan’s minister for foreign affairs, Khusro Bakhtiar, emphasized that the legislation represents an important move to strengthen regulations and controls on exports, re-exports, transshipments, and transit of items of proliferation concern. “This law provides a framework to deal with sensitive technologies and proliferation,” he said.

With the passage of this bill, Pakistan asserted it is in compliance with its obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 1540 and is acting as a responsible nuclear power. Resolution 1540, passed earlier this year, directs all states to implement domestic legislation that stiffens controls over sensitive materials and technologies in an effort to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. (See ACT, May 2004.)

The United States still has not, however, been allowed access to Khan. In an interview with The New York Times on Sept. 20, Musharraf contended that the United States has never asked for access to Khan but that, if they did, they would be rebuffed. “We wouldn’t let them [have access to Khan],” Musharraf asserted. “That would show a lack of trust in our agencies.” In his meeting with Musharraf two days later, Bush made no effort to persuade Musharraf on that issue.

U.S., India Ease Licensing Rules

Meanwhile, the United States and India announced an easing of dual-use exports to India’s nuclear and space facilities, the first concrete step in implementing a new “Next Steps in Strategic Partnership” initiative between New Delhi and Washington launched in January. The change, the Department of Commerce estimated, could cut by as much as one-fourth the number of licenses U.S. firms need to obtain for exporting dual-use goods to India.

A Sept. 20 Commerce Department press release said that the move came as part of a package of measures, including “implementation of measures to address proliferation concerns.” No details of more nonproliferation measures were released.

Under the new rules, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), India’s civilian space program, will be removed from the Commerce Department entity list. That step will allow many items with both civilian and military uses to be exported from the United States to India without a license. The United States will also eliminate the need for many of ISRO’s subsidiaries to obtain licenses for importing “low-level” U.S. dual-use goods.

The announcement also expanded the scope of civilian nuclear cooperation between the United States and India. U.S. officials will now be told to presume that certain Indian facilities should be eligible to import dual-use U.S. nuclear-related equipment not restricted by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). The NSG is an informal group of 44 states that seek to control nuclear exports.

The rule would limit these exports to facilities that are subject to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. India has safeguarded nuclear facilities in Rajasthan and Tarapur, each boasting two reactors. IAEA safeguards are intended to prevent civilian nuclear material from being used for military purposes.

Moreover, exports would only be permitted to the part of a nuclear power plant used for power generation, such as turbines, controllers, or power distribution, not to the nuclear reactor itself.

The changes in South Asia come as India and Pakistan have continued a series of nuclear confidence-building talks. Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri met with his Indian counterpart, Natwar Singh, Sept. 5-6 for the highest-level official talks to date. The foreign ministers agreed on 13 proposals, including further meetings between experts of each country to draft an agreement providing for advance notification of missile tests. (See ACT, September 2004.)



Pakistan Introduces Export Control Bill

Gabrielle Kohlmeier

Pakistan’s government took steps to ease concerns about control of its nuclear weapons program by introducing legislation to tighten export control restrictions. The move comes several months after the February disclosure that Abdul Qadeer Khan, the former lead Pakistani nuclear scientist, had passed nuclear secrets to Iran and Libya, among others.

The “Export Control on Goods, Technologies, Material and Equipment Related to Nuclear and Biological Weapons and their Delivery Systems Bill” was introduced in June. The legislation allows the government to oversee export, re-export, transshipment, and transit of goods, technologies, and equipment as well as to maintain control lists of goods and technologies subject to licensing requirements under the bill. Exporters must also maintain records of all transactions and report these to designated authorities.

The bill carries a penalty of up to 14 years in prison, a fine of up to five million rupees—more than $85,000—and also authorizes the seizure of property and assets of those found guilty of conducting illegal exports covered by the bill. Once passed, the law will apply to all Pakistani citizens, people in the service of Pakistan visiting or working abroad, and anyone on Pakistani territory. All ships and aircraft registered in Pakistan also will be subject to the order.

At a nonproliferation conference sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace June 21, Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Ashraf Jehangir Qazi said that an oversight board will monitor the bill’s implementation.

The bill was put forth by Pakistan’s foreign ministry and approved by Pakistan’s cabinet May 5, several days after the UN Security Council unanimously approved Resolution 1540, which mandates that all states work to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to nonstate actors by implementing domestic legislation strengthening controls on sensitive materials and technologies. Pakistan notified the United States of the bill in mid-May.

The bill is expected to receive the required approval of both the National Assembly and Senate. Pakistani officials expressed hope that the bill will fulfill Pakistan’s UN obligations and quell criticism about its nuclear activities.

Pakistan has come under fire for insufficiently guarding nuclear secrets since Khan admitted in February that he had secretly provided nuclear technology and expertise to other countries (Iran and Libya were identified as two customers) in return for a presidential pardon from Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. (See ACT, March 2004.) Pakistani officials claim, however, that Khan’s pardon is conditional and may be affected by the adoption of the bill.

In particular, Qazi said that Khan’s personal property is being confiscated but that property and assets in the name of other family members would likely not be seized. He emphasized that Pakistani officials were more interested in obtaining relevant information from Khan that will allow authorities to roll up the proliferation network, rather than imposing harsh penalties for his misbehavior. To date, Pakistan has not allowed U.S. or International Atomic Energy Agency officials to question Khan.

On July 24, Pakistani officials released three suspects who had remained detained by the Pakistani government, including a top nuclear scientist and two former army officers, all of whom were on Khan’s staff. None of the staff members suspected by Pakistani investigators and detained for long periods for questioning have been charged, and now only one of at least 26 Pakistanis detained remains in custody: Khan’s director-general of procurement, Mohammad Farooq.

Although the Bush administration has commended Islamabad for its efforts, rewarding Pakistan with major non-NATO ally status June 16, critics remain. The report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States informally known as the 9/11 Commission made special mention of Pakistan, criticizing the Bush administration for taking the Pakistani government at its word that it knew nothing of Khan’s activities, despite strong indications to the contrary. At the same time, the report called on the U.S. government to stop this period of ambivalence and mistrust and commit to sustained aid.

Some House members also doubt Islamabad’s claims, contending that Pakistan is not doing enough to stem the spread of nuclear materials. In late July, they introduced a bill to impose sanctions on “foreign entities that engage in certain nuclear proliferation activities.” The proposed Nuclear Black Market Elimination Act, introduced by Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), ranking member on the House International Relations Committee, specifically targets Pakistan, calling for sanctions unless the U.S. president certifies that Islamabad has fully disclosed relevant information regarding the international nuclear network and provided full access to those suspected of involvement, including Khan.

But across Capitol Hill, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) defended Pakistan from allegations that Islamabad is not sufficiently active or cooperative in investigating Khan’s network. During an Aug. 11 speech at the National Press Club, Lugar commended Pakistan’s efforts and noted the progress resulting from the information Pakistan has provided. Lugar asserted that the United States has been able to track suspicious activities in North Korea, Iran, and Libya, asserting that Pakistan’s contribution has “pinned down, intelligence-wise, a great deal we did not know before.”

India, Pakistan Seek Missile Test Pact

Gabrielle Kohlmeier

India and Pakistan have agreed to develop a formal system for early notification of missile tests after a summer of high-level diplomacy between the long-standing South Asian rivals.

The measure was the most concrete achievement of a series of talks since the election of a new Indian government in May. (See ACT, July/August 2004.) Those talks culminated in a 90-minute meeting July 23 between Indian Foreign Minister K. Natwar Singh and Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf at Musharraf’s official Army House residence in Islamabad. Other talks have included an informal meeting of Singh and his Pakistani counterpart, Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri, and discussions between the two countries’ top career diplomats.

Despite the diplomatic progress, both countries have continued to jockey for strategic advantage. Musharraf announced June 30 that Islamabad will soon undertake an “extremely important, substantive [missile] test.” No specifics were released. The announcement followed a series of missile tests undertaken by India and Pakistan since the new Indian government took power. Both countries, however, asserted that they do not view these tests as threats and are committed to continuing to build on their improved relations with one another. (See ACT, July/August 2004.)

In early July, India released its proposed budget for fiscal year 2005, which includes a 27-percent increase in military spending from the previous year to $16.8 billion. India has been discussing enhancing various defense capabilities, including the development of a unit armed with nuclear-capable missiles. Pakistan expressed concern about India’s proposed military budget hike. The increase could “wittingly or unwittingly accelerate the arms race between the countries, which we could have avoided,” said Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesperson Masood Khan July 12.

Still, Singh characterized his late July meetings as constructive and positive, asserting that he left Pakistan with “renewed determination to work with Pakistan to normalize our relations and resolve our differences.”

A formal meeting between the foreign ministers of each country will be held in New Delhi Sept. 5-6 to review the progress of their bilateral dialogue.

India, Pakistan Hold Nuclear Talks

July/August 2004

By Gabrielle Kohlmeier

Efforts to ease tensions between nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan continued in June, despite a change in government in New Delhi. In nuclear confidence-building talks June 19-20, the two South Asian nations agreed to continue a 1998 bilateral moratorium on further nuclear tests and establish a hotline between each country’s foreign ministry.

The communications link is designed to “prevent misunderstandings and reduce risks relevant to nuclear issues,” according to the countries’ joint statement.

A hotline between their senior commands has already been used to ease tensions after violence on the Kashmir border, but the new link will be upgraded, dedicated, and secured, and will connect the foreign ministries, reducing the likelihood of an accidental nuclear war caused by a lack of communication. India and Pakistan also agreed to renew a nuclear test ban, except in “extraordinary circumstances.”

These talks marked the first discussions on mechanisms to prevent the use of nuclear weapons, and the first movement on the Lahore Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of February 1999, designed to reduce the risks of a nuclear exchange due to an accident or misunderstanding. (See ACT, January/February 1999).

In their joint statement June 20, India and Pakistan vowed to “continue bilateral discussions and hold further meetings towards the implementation of the Lahore MoU of 1999.”

The talks came after the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) unexpected defeat in May’s Indian national elections. The BJP, led by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had shocked the world and Pakistan in 1998 by carrying out nuclear tests soon after coming to power. Pakistan matched India’s move soon thereafter, raising the prospect of a nuclear exchange when both countries came to the verge of full-scale war in 1999 and 2002. (See ACT, March 2004).

Tensions had begun to ease, however, in 2003 after Vajpayee and Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharaff took steps to improve relations. Vajpayee’s defeat raised concerns that this progress might be undone. Concerns grew more pronounced when the talks, initially scheduled for May 25-26, were postponed indefinitely at the request of the new Indian government.

Those concerns were dispelled on May 27 when the Congress party and its coalition partners, which comprise the governing United Progressive Alliance, put forth their policy agenda. The Common Minimum Programme stated that “[t]he UPA government is committed to maintaining a credible nuclear weapons programme while at the same time it will evolve demonstrable and verifiable confidence-building measures with its nuclear neighbours.”

More pointedly, it reiterated new Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s assurances that close ties are a priority, stating that “ [t]he UPA will give the highest priority to building closer … ties with its neighbors in South Asia…Dialogue with Pakistan on all issues will be pursued systematically and on a sustained basis.”

Still, challenges remain in easing nuclear tensions, particularly as the talks have not yet slowed either country’s missile or military modernization programs.

On May 28, Pakistan initiated the first of two missile tests within less than a week, test-firing it’s Ghauri V, which is believed to be based on North Korea’s Nodong missile. It has a range of 1,500 kilometers enabling it to reach most cities in northern India.

On June 4, Pakistan test fired a Hatf missile. Musharraf insisted the tests were not meant as a hostile sign to India, but were undertaken to ensure the reliability of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. Pakistani officials did emphasize, however, that the tests ought to clear up any false impressions that Pakistan will roll back its nuclear program.

Some countries reacted with disapproval to the missile tests. Japan’s foreign ministry issued a statement June 4 expressing “deep regret” over the missile tests, calling on Pakistan to “respond sincerely to the efforts of the international community to promote the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles.”

Some of India’s governing Congress party also expressed dismay, accusing Pakistan of starting an arms race. But the official response was more measured. Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Shiv Shankar Menon said India had received prior notice from Islamabad, and was unconcerned about the two tests. He also rejected the notion that these tests carried any sort of message.

This tempered response may be related to the recent advances of India’s own nuclear initiatives. In May, New Delhi released a new Maritime Doctrine calling for the construction of a two-dozen-ship ballistic missile submarine fleet by 2030. In the interim, India plans to deploy a submarine by the end of next year, two years ahead of its originally scheduled deployment date.

And on June 13, India test-fired a Brahmos supersonic cruise missile, which, until then, had been in its experimental phase.





Efforts to ease tensions between nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan continued in June, despite a change in government in New Delhi.

India, Pakistan Set Confidence-Building Talks

Gabrielle Kohlmeier

Indian and Pakistani officials are scheduled to meet later this month in the Indian capital New Delhi for formal discussions on nuclear confidence-building measures. The talks come in the wake of groundbreaking peace talks between the two bitter South Asian nuclear rivals earlier this year. (See ACT, January/February 2004.)

The May 25-26 meeting will include discussions on a possible agreement on annual exchanges of information regarding the location of nuclear installations and facilities. Another expected topic for discussion will be Pakistani nuclear weapons scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan’s admission that he passed nuclear secrets to Libya, North Korea, and Iran. Pakistani government officials have insisted that Khan acted without their support or acquiescence. While visiting Pakistan’s major nuclear facility in Rawalpindi April 21, Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf contended that no Pakistani government “had ever been involved in any kind of proliferation activities.”

In addition, Indian officials have expressed fears that Pakistani nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of extremists and have said that they will want a briefing on Pakistan’s nuclear security safeguards measures.

The talks will be led by Pakistan’s Acting Foreign Secretary Tariq Osman Hyder and the Indian Ministry of External Affairs Additional Secretary Sheel Kant Sharma. Further talks are scheduled for June 15-16 in Pakistan to discuss prevention of drug trafficking and smuggling. After the expert level meetings in May and June, the countries are planning another meeting in June that will bring together the countries’ foreign secretaries. Ministerial-level meetings will then assemble the foreign ministers at some time in August, according to the schedule outlined by India and Pakistan in February.

The talks mark the latest sign of progress in easing tensions between the two countries, which have come close to war on several occasions in the past five years. The most recent crises in 1999 and 2002 followed the two states’ nuclear-weapon test explosions of 1998 and raised concerns that the countries would resort to using their nuclear weapons. (See ACT, March 2004.)

Relations have been on an upswing since Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Musharraf took the opportunity at a Jan. 6 regional summit in Islamabad to discuss renewing attempts at negotiation. In February the two countries charted a map for discussing the divisive issues plaguing Indo-Pakistani relations. Key issues involved confidence building, terrorism and drugs, trade and economic cooperation, travel restrictions, and disputed territory, including Jammu and Kashmir. (See ACT, March 2004.)

Both sides have maintained their commitment to the talks. “The ethos of the moment is genuine,” former Pakistani Foreign Secretary Tanvir Ahmed Khan told the BBC News Online earlier this year. “There is sufficient political will on both sides to continue talks.”

In Pakistan, Musharraf has reaffirmed his commitment to the talks although no progress has yet been reported on the bitter divisions over the disputed province of Kashmir, a long-standing Pakistani grievance.

Further, Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Shivshankar Menon has said that his country’s national elections are unlikely to impede progress in Indo-Pakistani relations. Menon maintained that all of India’s major parties support dialogue with Pakistan and peaceful resolution of all issues.





Indian and Pakistani officials are scheduled to meet later this month in the Indian capital New Delhi for formal discussions on nuclear confidence-building measures...

Closing Pandora's Box: Pakistan's Role in Nuclear Proliferation

Sharon Squassoni

On February 4, 2004, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, self-styled father of the Pakistani nuclear bomb, appeared on Pakistani television to apologize to his nation. Revealing few details, Khan stated that a government investigation, which followed “disturbing disclosures and evidence by some countries to international agencies” (read “Iran and Libya to the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA]”), confirmed “alleged proliferation activities by certain Pakistanis and foreigners over the last two decades.” Khan admitted the allegations were true and said “there was never ever any kind of authorization for these activities by any government official.” Pakistani officials a few days earlier claimed that Khan provided technology to Iran, Libya, and North Korea.[1]

On February 5, Khan was pardoned by Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, with no mention of confiscating the millions of dollars he had acquired in more than 20 years of nuclear moonlighting. When asked about Khan’s pardon, U.S. Department of State spokesperson Richard Boucher replied, “I don’t think it’s a matter for the United States to sit in judgment on.”

In fact, it is critically important for the United States to judge whether Pakistan has adequately addressed Khan’s proliferation behavior. The administration’s failure to do so may be symptomatic of a deeper problem in its nonproliferation strategy. By focusing on “hostile states and terrorists”[2] as the main proliferation threat, the Bush strategy ignores friendly countries, such as Pakistan, that host terrorists, place insufficient controls on weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and are threatened with political destabilization. Ironically, the threat of terrorist access to weapons of mass destruction is probably greater in Pakistan than in Iraq, Libya, North Korea, or Iran—all targets of Bush counterproliferation policy. Even more, Pakistan has remained locked in a nuclear confrontation with India, which has several times escalated to the point of all-out war.

The Khan case illustrates a practical reality: separating “good guys” and “bad guys” in this fashion will not work over the long term. The reason is the phenomenon of secondary proliferation. Whereas 20 years ago we worried about single states acquiring the bomb, Khan has raised the stakes. Although some may argue that Khan acted independently and that his role is unlikely ever to be replicated, Pakistan’s continuing struggle with Islamic fundamentalism makes the prospect of rogue nuclear-weapon scientists even more problematic than government-directed proliferation. If Khan is not unique, how effective is the Bush administration’s targeted counterproliferation policy? Can tweaking supplier controls, as President George W. Bush recently suggested, stop this kind of proliferation? What practical routes are left for slowing nuclear proliferation?

Is Khan’s Role Unique?

The press has focused on the sexier aspects of Khan’s story: money launderers in Dubai, Swiss and British intermediaries, plants in Kuala Lumpur, and shipments intercepted in Mediterranean ports. Yet, nuclear proliferation is no stranger to intrigue, spies, and foreign travel. What may be most shocking about the unfolding tale of Khan’s nuclear weapons marketing is how utterly familiar it sounds. To be sure, leaks of high technology used to emanate mostly from North America, Europe, and Russia.[3] Sources now have expanded to Asia and Eurasia, despite attempts to strengthen supplier controls and nuclear safeguards in the wake of Iraq’s embarrassing nuclear shopping spree before the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

If the modes of covert nuclear commerce appear to have changed little, what is particularly egregious about the Khan case? One answer may lie in Khan and his associates’ apparent ability to provide “one-stop shopping.”[4] Khan sold blueprints; components; full centrifuge assemblies; uranium hexafluoride feedstock; and, from some accounts, a nuclear-weapon design.[5] If he had desired, Khan also could have provided some missile technology because Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) developed missiles in collaboration with North Korea.[6] Was Khan able to provide this one-stop shopping because of his unique position within the Pakistani nuclear weapons program and heroic popular image or because the Pakistani government helped?

Khan’s assistance to Iran in centrifuge uranium-enrichment apparently began in the late 1980s and continued at least until the mid-1990s.[7] Assistance to Libya began in the early 1990s and may have continued into 2002. Beyond blueprints, components, full assemblies of centrifuges, and low-enriched uranium, Libya also received—startlingly—a nuclear weapons design.[8] In both cases, it is clear that Khan provided technology for an advanced centrifuge design (the P-2).[9] There is no confirmation that the nuclear-weapon design Libya received in 2001 or 2002 is from Pakistan, but some sources have reported that the design contained Chinese text and step-by-step instructions for assembling a vintage 1960s, highly enriched uranium (HEU) implosion device, which could indicate that Khan passed on a design that Pakistan is long rumored to have received from China.[10]

Whether Khan gave North Korea nuclear-weapon-related technology or equipment is still disputed. U.S. officials and sources close to Khan have said he did; the Pakistani and North Korean governments have denied any technology transfers.[11] One popular theory is that Pakistan bartered uranium-enrichment technology for missile technology from North Korea, but Musharraf has stated that “whatever we bought from North Korea is with money.”[12] A Pakistani official involved in Khan’s investigation reportedly said North Korea ordered P-1 centrifuge components from 1997 to 2000.[13] Separately, other evidence points to Pakistani nuclear assistance. As far back as 1991, a German intelligence investigation concluded that Iraq, and possibly Iran and North Korea, obtained uranium-melting information from Pakistan in the late 1980s.[14]

Investigating Khan

The Pakistani government began to investigate allegations of nuclear transfers in 2000.[15] The Inter Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) raided a plane chartered by Khan bound for North Korea but found nothing. Further, although Musharraf admitted that he “forcibly retired” Khan from the KRL in 2001 to prevent him from transferring more nuclear secrets, Khan ultimately was undone not by his government, but by his clients. Forced to prove to the IAEA that it had not enriched uranium to HEU levels, Iran revealed the existence of foreign suppliers in October 2003. Iran had held back information on the procurement network for months. Apparently, Khan had written letters to Iranian clients, urging them to destroy some of their facilities and tell the IAEA that their Pakistani contacts were dead.[16] Libya’s decision to give up its WMD programs voluntarily, however, unleashed a torrent of information about Pakistani assistance, forcing the Pakistani government to conduct a two-month investigation.

The Pakistani government has been slow to admit that there were nuclear transfers and quick to deny any official complicity. Initially, official Pakistani responses ranged from “our nuclear weapons are secure” to “there is no smoking gun.”[17] In December 2003, the Foreign Ministry spokesman claimed that Pakistan never authorized transfers but that individuals may have been involved in transfers to Iran. On January 6, 2004, when asked about transfers to Libya, Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said “This is total madness.” An interview in February 2004 with Musharraf noted that Pakistan’s investigation had not uncovered evidence of transfers to countries other than Iran and Libya.”[18]

The structure of the nuclear establishment in Pakistan and the key role of the military, as well as long-standing ties between Pakistan and all three countries, raise doubts that Khan acted completely without government knowledge. Pakistan’s military is widely believed to control the Pakistani nuclear weapons program. Musharraf has taken pains to clarify that Pakistan established civilian control of the nuclear weapons program (embodied in himself) under the National Command Authority, but until Musharraf steps down as army chief of staff, this distinction may be irrelevant. Moreover, a key feature of Pakistan’s export control regulations allows for an explicit exemption for Ministry of Defense agencies, which suggests that weapons programs under military leadership could skirt domestic export control laws.[19]

Khan has alleged that military officials, including former Chiefs of Army Staff (COAS), knew of the transfers. One account claims that equipment to Iran was transferred at the request of the late General Imtiaz Ali between 1988 and 1990.[20] Another states that Musharraf was aware of aid to North Korea, that General Mirzla Aslam Beg knew about aid to Iran, and that two other COAS (Generals Jehangir Karamat and Abdul Waheed) knew of aid to North Korea.[21] General Beg long has had a reputation for being an Islamist and an admirer of the Iranian revolution. Beg officially denied knowledge of aid to Iran, although former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto said she was approached several times from 1988 to 1990 (the period when Beg was COAS) by military officials and scientists who wanted to export nuclear technology. According to Bhutto, “it certainly was their (scientists’) belief that they could earn tons of money if they did this.” But Bhutto had established a policy in December 1988 not to export nuclear technology.[22] Bhutto also said that “no Pakistani thought Mr. Khan was acting alone.”[23]

Reports of extensive official cooperation between Pakistan and the three countries lend credence to claims that Pakistan’s government might have known of transfers. Pakistan reportedly signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with Iran in 1986, although the terms of that agreement are unknown, and Iranian scientists received training in Pakistan in 1988. Libyan funding of the Pakistani nuclear weapons program in the early years long has been alleged.[24] Pakistan’s well-documented missile cooperation with North Korea beginning in the early 1990s may have provided either a convenient excuse for rogue nuclear scientists to ply their trade or sparked the plan for a barter arrangement as Pakistani foreign currency reserves fell dangerously low in 1996.[25]

Khan reportedly made more than $100 million from selling nuclear technology to Libya alone.[26] Musharraf has stressed the role of greed, but Khan reportedly told investigators he hoped to deflect attention from Pakistan’s nuclear program and support other Muslim countries (i.e., Iran and Libya) by providing nuclear assistance.[27] In the late 1980s, when cooperation with Iran allegedly began, the argument for deflecting attention from Pakistan could have been plausible, particularly as pressure from the United States grew with each new revelation of Pakistan’s nuclear progress.

U.S. Policy Toward Pakistan

For 30 years, the U.S. government has tried to restrain Pakistan from acquiring nuclear weapons using such tools as diplomacy, aid, and interdiction. When those failed, sanctions were developed specifically against Pakistan to slow its nuclear program (see sidebar). U.S. policy implementation, however, has been inconsistent, particularly when other U.S. national security interests at times have taken precedence. Less than six months after cutting off aid in 1979 to Pakistan for its uranium-enrichment activities, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan and negotiations to resume aid to Islamabad began. In 1990, after the Soviets pulled out, President George H.W. Bush determined he could not certify that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear device, and so aid was cut off again, this time for several years. In 1998, aid was cut off following Pakistan’s nuclear tests, but this lasted less than a year. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress passed legislation allowing Pakistan to circumvent the remaining restrictions on aid (related then to its foreign debt arrears and 1999 military coup).

Over time, the U.S. threshold of proliferation tolerance has risen from Pakistan’s acquisition of technology to its possession of a nuclear device and then to nuclear testing (in 1998). Has the threshold now risen to the point where the United States is seeking to sidestep laws aimed at penalizing states that supply nuclear technologies, rather than those that receive such aid? This could explain why the United States has not strenuously pursued the question of potential Pakistani government cooperation in Khan’s activities. The State Department concluded in a letter to key members of Congress on March 12, 2003, that “the administration carefully reviewed the facts relating to the possible transfer of nuclear technology from Pakistan to North Korea, and decided that they do not warrant the imposition of sanctions under applicable U.S. laws.” Given administration statements alleging such nuclear transfers, the United States appears to have accepted Islamabad’s explanation that it had no role.

Pinning the blame on individuals is a time-tested and obvious circumvention (à la the 1996 provision of Chinese ring magnets to Pakistan, which was not deemed a sanctionable offense). Although individuals engaging in proliferation are barred under U.S. law from receiving U.S. government contracts, there are few other ways for the United States to punish them. Nonetheless, a determination that Libya and Iran received such equipment, even from an individual, might not relieve Bush of an obligation to make a determination and then perhaps waive sanctions. In particular, receiving a nuclear weapons design is a trigger for cutting off aid under Section 102 of the Arms Export Control Act. In the case of both Libya and Iran, new sanctions would add little to the broader burden already imposed on them by virtue of their status as a state sponsors of terrorism. With respect to Pakistan, draft Senate authorizing legislation on the foreign affairs budget (S. 2144) currently contains a waiver of sanctions (including those for proliferation) previously in force.

The line in the sand appears to be drawn now at the transfer of nuclear weapons technology to terrorists. Unfortunately, such activities are incredibly difficult to deter, detect, identify, and stop. The 2002 U.S. National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction identifies this problem as “one of the most difficult challenges we face.” Whether the threat of terrorists acquiring and using nuclear weapons is greater now than before is unclear, but the ability to influence terrorists in this regard, in contrast to states, remains extremely limited.

U.S. officials have intimated they knew about Khan’s network for several years, and the U.S. government seems to have been quietly working with the Pakistani government to limit the damage from Khan’s nuclear network.[28] Shortly after Khan’s dismissal in 2001, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage reportedly stated that “people who were employed by the nuclear agency and have retired” could be spreading nuclear technology to other states, including North Korea.[29] Nonetheless, after U.S. intelligence officials leaked the news in 2002 that Pakistani enrichment technology was transferred to North Korea, Secretary of State Colin Powell claimed that “President Musharraf gave me his assurance, as he has previously, that Pakistan is not doing anything of that nature.…The past is the past.”[30] But Powell put Musharraf on notice: “I have made clear to him that any, any sort of contact between Pakistan and North Korea we believe would be improper, inappropriate, and would have consequences.”[31]

Clearly, another key factor here is the priority of counterterrorism over counterproliferation policy in the Bush administration. In 2002, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer was asked whether countries that provided assistance to North Korea on the enrichment program would risk being cut off from U.S. assistance and he responded that “September 11th changed the world.” Two months later, the United States decided to impose sanctions on North Korea for sending Scud missiles to Yemen, yet waived sanctions against Yemen for receiving them. The reason: According to State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, “because of the commitments that they [Yemen] had made and in consideration of their support for the war on terrorism.”

Missiles to Yemen may be one thing, but tacitly condoning past nuclear weapons cooperation with three state sponsors of terrorism is counterproductive. Secretary of State Powell’s announcement on March 18th that Pakistan would be designated a “major non-NATO ally,” a step that facilitates military cooperation and assistance, reinforces the impression that for the Bush administration, counterterrorism trumps counterproliferation cooperation.

Next Steps

There is no telling how much information Khan’s 12-page confession contains, whether it is accurate or complete, or how much will be revealed either to the IAEA or other states. So far, Musharraf has denied the need for an international investigation or any international inspections of Pakistani nuclear facilities.[32] He has said he will share some information with the IAEA, and U.S. officials apparently are content with that approach.[33]

The main U.S. response so far has been to focus on closing down Khan’s covert nuclear network. On February 11, 2004, Bush unveiled new efforts aimed partly to accomplish this.[34] Briefly, Bush proposes to expand interdiction efforts (under the Proliferation Security Initiative) to “shut down labs, to seize their materials, to freeze their assets;” criminalize proliferation through a new U.S.-sponsored UN Security Council resolution; expand cooperative threat reduction measures to states such as Libya; ban enrichment and reprocessing capabilities beyond those states that already have them; make the Additional Protocol (to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty [NPT]) a prerequisite for nuclear-related imports; and create a special committee at the IAEA to investigate compliance.

Strengthening export controls is laudable and necessary, but these measures, even taken together, are unlikely to prevent another Khan affair. Above all, supplier controls rely on the fundamental premise that slowing the leakage of technology (which itself is inevitable) buys time for the world community to persuade states not to acquire nuclear weapons. This premise is undone by the emergence of a supplier who can supply it all. In one sense, Khan’s success is the natural result of a well-known NPT loophole: states outside the treaty that have acquired nuclear weapons. Pakistan, India, Israel, and possibly North Korea are likely to remain outside the NPT and therefore are not bound by the treaty’s prohibitions on sharing nuclear weapons technology.

Despite this, the United States and other supplier countries have their own means to impose penalties for actions that undermine the NPT (see sidebar), as well as ample carrots to offer Pakistan. The Bush administration has proposed a $3 billion aid package to Pakistan over the next five years. At a minimum, the United States should condition this aid on requiring Pakistan to give the United States full access to Khan, as well as to improve transparency, export controls, and personnel reliability in its nuclear program.


By treating Libya, the “axis of evil” countries, and Pakistan as separate and distinct problems, the United States is missing an opportunity to develop a common and consistent nuclear nonproliferation policy.

Events in Iraq, Iran, Libya, Pakistan, and North Korea all point to the lesson that nothing can substitute for on-site inspection of suspicious activities. Inspections in Iraq failed to come up with evidence of a reconstituted nuclear program, whether conducted by the IAEA and the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) or the Iraq Survey Group. Inspections in Iran have slowly revealed capabilities Iran had been loathe to admit and which were not revealed by overhead imagery alone. Inspections in Libya surprised some with revelations of centrifuge and weapons design procurement but basically confirmed long-held views that Libya’s nuclear weapons program did not amount to much. Finally, the lack of inspections in North Korea has left the United States guessing about North Korean enrichment capabilities.

Although Pakistan has rejected the NPT and any kind of international inspections into Khan’s activities, there may be ways of introducing more transparency into its nuclear program. Serious discussions with Pakistan on export control only began in 2003 and the Bush administration has asked for just $1 million in the FY05 State Department budget for export control assistance, a tiny fraction of the $700 million in assistance to Pakistan for next year. U.S. export control assistance should be expanded, with a particular focus on eliminating exemptions for Pakistani defense agencies and assisting Pakistan to adhere to Nuclear Suppliers’ Group guidelines. The United States could also offer specific assistance in physical protection of nuclear material and personnel security under the auspices of a cooperative threat reduction program. Nonetheless, even if Pakistan accepted this offer, this may not produce adequate transparency. [35]

Ultimately, it would be far better to get international inspections at Pakistani facilities and to draw Pakistan into a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT). U.S. policy has supported such a treaty since 1993, but little diplomatic capital has been expended on it. Pakistan has said it will support an FMCT. At a minimum, a cutoff agreement would place all enrichment and reprocessing worldwide (given universal adherence) under inspection. In this way, it would require inspections at facilities that have operated covertly for many years, opening them up to international scrutiny and making it more difficult for covert supplier networks to flourish. A treaty also could go further and close down unneeded production capacity or incorporate international management or control of fissile material.

Finally, although Pakistan’s current importance to the war on terrorism makes U.S. sanctions unlikely, the United States needs to make clear that there will be severe consequences for further transgressions, regardless of the counterterrorism issue. U.S. policymakers also need to reevaluate their tepid support for multilateral nonproliferation approaches. If anything, the globalization of the black nuclear market should provide a warning that one country cannot halt this problem alone.

Retracing Khan's Path

Abdul Qadeer Khan’s unlikely route to nuclear stardom began in 1972. As a trained metallurgist subcontracted to the fledgling URENCO consortium, he was asked to translate classified documents on centrifuge technology from their original German into Dutch. Khan’s access, as well as overt Pakistani procurement attempts, began to attract notice from Dutch authorities in late 1975. Transferred to a less sensitive position, Khan fled Holland for his native Pakistan in December 1975. His intimate knowledge of suppliers and a weak international export control regime allowed him to build a centrifuge enrichment plant at Sihala in just a few years.[1] The construction and operation of the Kahuta enrichment facility, known then as the Engineering Research Laboratories (ERL), followed. Khan’s hard work was rewarded in 1981 when President Muhammed Zia ul-Haq renamed the ERL as the Khan Research Laboratory (KRL).[2] According to some reports, a competition was encouraged between the KRL and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) to develop two routes to the bomb—HEU and plutonium. Khan himself has described his activities as supporting the PAEC’s reactor development program, enriching uranium to use as fuel in the Chasma nuclear reactor.

By many accounts, the KRL and Khan were given remarkable autonomy. This independence only grew after the uranium-enrichment program, once thought of as a fallback in case the French reprocessing plant at Chasma fell through (which it did in 1978 under strong U.S. pressure), became the cornerstone of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal.[3] One aide close to President Gen. Pervez Musharraf stated, “Khan had a complete blank check. He could do anything. He could go anywhere. He could buy anything at any price.”[4] Musharraf himself has noted that “there was a covert program for maybe 30 years, and there was a lot of autonomy given to the organization and individuals running the program. There was a lot of chance for leakages.”[5]

A critical question is why the Pakistani government permitted this autonomy. Politics likely played a key role. After taking power in 1999, Musharraf began to receive reports of corruption (skimming government contracts and nepotism) at Kahuta.[6] Khan’s lavish lifestyle, despite his modest salary, was “the worst-kept secret in town,” said one Pakistani official.[7] Still, Musharraf did not remove him as KRL head until 2001, allegedly under considerable pressure from the United States. Even then, he was appointed special adviser to Musharraf. After Khan’s confession, Musharraf called him a personal hero and a hero to the nation.[8] Musharraf declared that, “since [Khan] had acquired a larger-than-life figure for himself, one had to pardon him to satisfy the public.”[9]

Khan further cemented his importance to the entire nuclear weapons program through KRL development of missiles in the 1980s. Reportedly, a competition was encouraged between the plutonium team (PAEC), working toward Chinese-derived nuclear-capable missiles, and the HEU team (KRL), collaborating with North Korea on a Scud derivative.[10] Khan’s frequent trips abroad for “legitimate” missile cooperation with North Korea might have provided cover for his nuclear deals.

The nuclear program prior to 1998, according to Pakistani officials, was handled by just a few people at the top.[11] Despite Pakistan’s claims to have tightened controls by creating the National Command Authority (NCA) in February 2000, high-level officials still seem to be exempt. Reportedly, key people in the Pakistani nuclear weapons program are screened every two years (since 2000) by the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI), Military Intelligence, the Intelligence Bureau, and the Strategic Plan Division of the NCA. However, “top-level people (including scientists) are controlled by their organizations and not psychologically screened.”[12] Musharraf has suggested in interviews that it is virtually impossible to stop security breaches by institution leaders. Referring to himself, he stated, “If there was a security problem here and if I myself am involved in the breach, do you think anyone is going to check me?”[13] This analogy might reflect the unique status of Khan, a fundamental flaw in Pakistani nuclear security procedures, or both. Moreover, it is yet to be established that some or all of these exchanges were not matters of national policy.


1. For an excellent account, see Steve Weissman and Herbert Krosney, The Islamic Bomb (New York: Times Books, 1981).

2. Simon Henderson, “We Can Do It Ourselves,” Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (September 1993), p. 27.

3. The KRL began to produce enriched uranium in 1984 and, by some estimates, HEU by 1986, whereas plutonium for weapons did not become available until after the 1998 nuclear tests. See Leonard Spector, The Undeclared Bomb (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment, 1988), p. 143.

4. “A Tale of Nuclear Proliferation: How Pakistani Built His Network,” The New York Times, February 12, 2004.

5. “Q&A: Pervez Musharraf; Confronting the Nuclear Underworld,” The Washington Post, January 25, 2004.

6. “Delicate Dance for Musharraf in Nuclear Case,” The New York Times, February 8, 2004.

7. “Musharraf Named in Nuclear Probe,” The Washington Post, February 3, 2004.

8. “General Defiant in Face of Scandal Over Scientist’s Nuclear Secrets,” Financial Times, February 18, 2004.

9. “Pakistani Leader Suspected Moves by Atomic Expert,” The New York Times, February 10, 2004.

10. Simon Henderson, “Pakistan’s Nuclear Proliferation and U.S. Policy,” PolicyWatch, no. 826, January 12, 2004.

11. See report from a visit to Pakistan by Paolo Cotta-Ramusino and Maurizio Martellini in 2001, “Nuclear safety, nuclear stability and nuclear strategy in Pakistan: A concise report of a visit by Landau Network-Centro Volta.”

12. Ibid.

13. General Defiant in Face of Scandal Over Scientist’s Nuclear Secrets,” Financial Times, February 18, 2004.

Retracing Khan's Path

During the past three decades, the United States has imposed and lifted sanctions on Pakistan many times. The changes have reflected modifications in U.S. foreign policy priorities as much as shifts in Pakistan’s nonproliferation behavior.

1976 Congress amends the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA) to bar aid to countries that transfer uranium-enrichment or reprocessing equipment, materials, or technology in violation of specified conditions (Symington amendment, Sec. 669, FAA).

1977 Congress amends FAA to bar aid for countries that detonate a nuclear explosive (Glenn amendment, Sec. 670, FAA, which also covers reprocessing transfers). Aid suspended in September

1977 because Pakistan is found to be seeking reprocessing technology from French companies.

1978 Aid resumed in October 1978 after France cancels reprocessing deal.

1979 Aid cut off in April 1979 because of Pakistan’s enrichment activities (Symington invoked).

1980 Negotiations to resume aid begin after Soviets invade Afghanistan.

1981 Aid resumed (Symington waived by Congress (Sec. 620E, FAA) of Sec. 669) for Pakistan but restrictions added for transfers of nuclear weapons and design information.

1985 Solarz amendment (amends Sec. 670, FAA) bars aid for illegal export from the United States of any material, equipment, or technology that would contribute significantly to the ability of a country to build a nuclear explosive device. Pressler amendment (Sec. 620E(e), FAA) prohibits the transfer of military equipment or technology to Pakistan specifically unless the president certifies to the Congress that Pakistan does not possess a nuclear explosive device and that the proposed U.S. aid program would reduce significantly the risk that Pakistan will possess such a device.

1987 Symington waiver expires; renewed for 30 months.

1990 Aid suspended under Pressler amendment. Symington waiver expires.

1995 Brown amendment relaxes cut-off so that only military aid and transfers barred.

1998 May: aid suspended after nuclear tests. July: Congress provides waiver for wheat purchases. Aid resumes for one year, except military assistance, dual-use exports, and military sales (India-Pakistan Relief Act of 1998 (Brownback I).

1999 Aid resumes permanently (Brownback II gives president permanent waiver authority for proliferation sanctions). However, foreign debt arrears and military coup bar aid to Pakistan.

2001 Presidential executive order lifts remaining restrictions.


1. David Rohde and David E. Sanger, “Key Pakistani Is Said to Admit Atom Transfers,” The New York Times, February 2, 2004.

2. National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction (December 2002), p. 1.

3. A 1982 Senate Foreign Relations Committee report, Analysis of Six Issues About Nuclear Capabilities of India, Iraq, Libya, and Pakistan, concluded that from 1978 to 1981 India acquired technology from France, the United States, and the United Kingdom; Iraq from Brazil, Germany, France, Italy, Niger, Norway, Portugal and Russia; Libya from Argentina, Finland, India, Niger, the United States, and Russia; and Pakistan from Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Niger, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Russia. By the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland were also found to have supplied Iraq with nuclear technologies. See “Who Armed Iraq?” The New York Times, July 18, 1993.

4. Pakistan’s investigation also included Mohammed Farooq, who supervised the KRL’s contacts with foreign suppliers; Yasin Chohan, a KRL metallurgist; Major Islam ul-Haq, a personal staff officer; Nazeer Ahmed, a KRL director; and Saeed Ahmed, head of centrifuge design. Between 11 and 25 KRL employees were questioned, as well as the generals in charge of KRL security, Generals Beg and Karamat. Simon Henderson, “Link Leaks,” National Review Online, January 19, 2004.

5. See Karen Yourish and Delano D’Souza, “Father of Pakistani Bomb Sold Nuclear Secrets,” Arms Control Today, March 2004, p. 22.

6. In fact, U.S. sanctions were imposed in early 2003 on the KRL for receiving MTCR Category I missiles from North Korea.

7. Iran told the IAEA its centrifuge enrichment program began in 1987; Lieutenant General Khalid Kidwai, who briefed journalists on February 1, 2004, on Khan’s confession, reportedly stated that cooperation began in 1989 and Khan transferred technology from 1989 to 1991. “Key Pakistani Is Said to Admit Atom Transfers,” The New York Times, February 2, 2004. An IAEA report states that Iran received P-2 drawings from “foreign sources” in 1994. IAEA, “Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” GOV/2004/11, February 24, 2004, p. 8 (hereinafter GOV/2004/11 report).

8. An IAEA report states that in 1997 foreign manufacturers provided 20 pre-assembled L-1 (equivalent to P-1) centrifuges and components for an additional 200 L-1 centrifuges, including process gas feeding and withdrawal systems, UF6 cylinders, and frequency converters. IAEA, “Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,” GOV/2004/12, February 20, 2004 (hereinafter GOV/2004/12 report).

9. Libya received two of the P-2-type centrifuges in 2000 and placed an order for 10,000 more. Iran has claimed that it received P-2 plans, but no centrifuge components, and tried to develop a carbon-composite rotor on its own, with no success. GOV/2004/11 report and GOV/2004/12 report.

10. William J. Broad and David E. Sanger, “Warhead Blueprints Link Libya Project to Pakistan Figure,” The New York Times, February 4, 2004; Joby Warrick and Peter Slevin, “Libyan Arms Designs Traced Back to China,” The Washington Post, February 15, 2004.

11. Asked by Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) what the United States knows about Pakistan’s involvement in helping North Korea, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage replied that “[w]e know it’s both ways and we know a good bit about a North Korean-Pakistan relationship.” Richard Armitage, testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, February 4, 2003.

12. Farhan Bokhari, Steven Fidler, and Edward Luce, “Pakistan Rejects Nuclear Inspection,” Financial Times, February 18, 2004. For additional evidence related to a barter arrangement, see Sharon Squassoni, “Weapons of Mass Destruction: Trade Between North Korea and Pakistan,” CRS Report for Congress, RL 31900, March 11, 2004.

13. Mubashir Zaidi, “Scientist Claimed Nuclear Equipment Was Old, Official Says,” The Los Angeles Times, February 10, 2004.

14. Mark Hibbs, “Agencies Trace Some Iraqi URENCO Know-How to Pakistan Re-Export,” Nucleonics Week, November 28, 1991, pp. 1, 7-8. See also Mark Hibbs, “CIA Assessment on DPRK Presumes Massive Outside Help on Centrifuges,” Nuclear Fuel, November 25, 2002.

15. “Pakistan Informed U.S. of ‘Personal’ Nuclear Technology Transfer: Report,” Agence France-Presse, December 25, 2003. According to this report, the United States asked the Pakistani government to look into alleged nuclear transfers to North Korea, and Pakistani officials concluded from the deposit of large sums of money in Kahuta scientists’ bank accounts that nuclear technology had indeed been transferred on an individual basis.

16. Ibid.

17. Glenn Kessler, “Pakistan’s N. Korea Deals Stir Scrutiny; Aid to Nuclear Arms Bid May Be Recent,” The Washington Post, November 13, 2002. Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, reportedly stated that “[n]o material, no technology ever has been exported to North Korea ”and “[n]obody can tell us if there is evidence, no one is challenging our word. There is no smoking gun.”

18. Bokhari, Fidler, and Luce, “Pakistan Rejects Nuclear Inspection,” Financial Times, February 18, 2004.

19. Anupam Srivastava and Seema Gahlaut, “Curbing Proliferation from Emerging Suppliers: Export Controls in India and Pakistan,” Arms Control Today, September 2003, pp. 12-16.

20. “Nuke Leak May Cost Pak $3b,” The Times of India Online, February 5, 2004.

21. John Lancaster and Kamran Khan, “Musharraf Named in Nuclear Probe,” The Washington Post, February 3, 2004.

22. See David Rohde, “General Denies Letting Secrets of A-Bomb Out of Pakistan,” The New York Times, January 27, 2004; Steven Fidler, “Bhutto ‘Rejected Request to Sell N-Technology,’” Financial Times, February 24, 2004.

23. On the other hand, Bhutto stated she did not think it probable that centrifuge parts were exported from Pakistan to Iran from 1994 to 1995 (while she was prime minister), despite revelations of exactly that in a Malaysian police report connected to the Iran investigation.

24. Steve Weissman and Herbert Krosney, The Islamic Bomb (New York: Times Books, 1981).

25. Daniel A. Pinkston, “When Did WMD Deals between Pyongyang and Islamabad Begin?” http://cns.mis.edu.

26. David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, “Pakistani’s Nuclear Earnings: $100 Million,” The New York Times, March 16, 2004.

27. John Lancaster and Kamran Khan, “Musharraf Named in Nuclear Probe,” The Washington Post, February 3, 2004.

28. CIA director George Tenet stated that U.S. intelligence had penetrated Khan’s network, including its subsidiaries, scientists, front companies, agents, finances, and manufacturing plants, in a February 5, 2004, speech he gave at Georgetown University, available at www.cia.gov/cia/public_affairs/speeches/index.html.

29. Steven Fidler and Edward Luce “U.S. Fears North Korea Could Gain Nuclear Capability through Pakistan,” Financial Times, June 1, 2001.

30. Carla Anne Robbins, “North Korea Got a Little Help from Neighbors—Secret Nuclear Program Tapped Russian Suppliers and Pakistani Know-How,” Wall Street Journal Europe, October 21, 2002; ABC’s This Week, October 20, 2002 (transcript).

31. Ahmed Rashid, “US Grows Unhappier with Pakistan—Despite Official Friendship, Three Areas of Contention Are Straining the Alliance,” The Wall Street Journal, December 2, 2002.

32. Bokhari, Fidler, and Luce, “Pakistan Rejects Nuclear Inspection,” Financial Times, February 18, 2004.

33. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher stated in the daily press briefing on February 17, 2004, that “we look forward to hearing from the Pakistani government about the facts as they have developed them during the course of their investigation.”

34. Available at www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/02/20040211-4.html. See also Wade Boese, “Bush Outlines Proposals to Stem Proliferation,” Arms Control Today, March 2004, pp. 24-25.

35. For specific impediments to providing cooperative threat reduction assistance to Pakistan and India, see Sharon Squassoni, “Nuclear Threat Reduction Measures for India and Pakistan,” CRS Report for Congress, RL 31589.

Sharon Squassoni is a specialist in national defense issues with the Congressional Research Service. The views presented here are the author’s own and do not reflect those of the Congressional Research Service or the Library of Congress.






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