Pakistan's Illegal Nuclear Procurement Exposed in 1987
Arrest of Arshed Pervez Sparked Reagan Administration Debate over Sanctions
Newly Declassified Documents Show Illegal Network Had Islamabad's "Approval, Protection, and Funding"
Reagan White House Chose Afghan War over Nonproliferation Enforcement
The Pervez Case and Reagan Administration Nuclear Nonproliferation Policy, 1987
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 446
Posted -- November 22, 2013
Edited by William Burr
For more information contact: William Burr - 202/994-7000 or email@example.com
Washington, D.C., 22 November 2013 -- The arrest of a Pakistani national, Arshed Pervez in July 1987 on charges of illegal nuclear procurement roiled U.S.-Pakistan relations and sharpened divisions within the Reagan administration, according to recently declassified documents published today by the National Security Archive and the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) director Kenneth Adelman wanted to crack down on the Pakistani nuclear program by cutting military and economic aid; Adelman argued that failure to do so "would be seen as 'business as usual,'" taking the pressure off Pakistan "at the very time we should be trying to increase pressure on them to stop ... illegal procurement activities in the US." By contrast, the State Department took a contrary view because U.S. aid to Pakistan supported the mujahidin in Afghanistan: "We are particularly concerned about weakening the President's hand in discussions with the Soviets on Afghanistan, which [are] at a critical stage.
The Pervez case demonstrates how U.S. government agencies, including the Customs Bureau and ACDA, sought to monitor and disrupt Pakistan's nuclear procurement activities. For its part, the Reagan White House used loopholes in U.S. nonproliferation laws to avoid the enforcement of sanctions against Pakistan. The documents released in today's publication illustrate these and related developments. They include:
For the Reagan administration, aiding the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan trumped nonproliferation policy interests. The high priority given to a close U.S.-Pakistan relationship may have encouraged, as some journalists have alleged, State Department officials to warn the Pakistanis of the imminent arrest of their agents. A key figure in the A. Q. Khan nuclear procurement network, Inam Ul-Haq evaded arrest by slipping out of the United States at the last minute. A few weeks later, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Michael Armacost explained to Pakistani dictator General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq that State had unsuccessfully tried to get information about the Customs Bureau's investigation of Perez, but "we did alert the GOP [Government of Pakistan] through letters, Ambassador Hinton, and our talks with the Foreign Minister that there was an issue here that needed to be addressed urgently." "I understand the idea of warning, Zia replied." Future declassifications may elucidate exactly what these urgent alerts amounted to.
The documents in today's posting only give part of the story, mainly the ACDA perspective and the nuts and bolts of Pervez's procurement activities as presented in the trial documents. The State Department is coordinating the review of other documents on the Pervez case with other agencies and offices (probably including CIA), and some denied items are under appeal. The Archive has also requested declassification of a November 1987 memorandum by Secretary of State George Shultz to President Reagan arguing against penalizing aid to Pakistan. Assuming that some of these documents get declassified, more light will be shed on the way that the Reagan administration handled the Pervez case.
Check out today's posting at the National Security Archive's Nuclear Vault - http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nukevault/ebb446/
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