Mr. Chairmen and members of the Subcommittees on Arms Control, International Security and Science; Asian and Pacific Affairs; and International Economic Policy and Trade:
PAUL LEVENTHAL, PRESIDENT,
NUCLEAR CONTROL INSTITUTE,
ON PAKISTAN AND U.S. NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION POLICY
BEFORE THE HOUSE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 22, 1987
The question of whether to continue military and economic aid to Pakistan represents a watershed for U.S. efforts to stop the further spread of nuclear weapons. It is not the first watershed event by any means; nor will it be the last. But Pakistan is an exceptional case in that the acknowledged U.S. policy objective toward Pakistan is clearly to "prevent," not simply to "manage," Pakistan's acquiring of nuclear weapons. U.S. nuclear nonproliferation policy often does not work this way.
The prevailing wisdom of U.S. non-proliferation policymakers over the years has been "To manage is human, to prevent is divine." our policies toward India and Israel are clearly management oriented: we did not and still do not directly confront their nuclear weapons programs. The same may be said of our policies toward Argentina and Brazil, which are developing capabilities that should at least match India's some day, and toward South Africa, which seems to be following Israel's model with little apparent resistance from the United States since the U.S. intervened to block an apparent South African plan to test a weapon in 1977. Our attitude toward separation and use of plutonium fuels by the Europeans and Japanese, in amounts that soon will exceed what we now have in our weapons, is permissive to say the least.
But Pakistan is different. We want to prevent Pakistan from getting the bomb. In this sense, U.S. policy is similar to what it was toward South Korea and Taiwan in the mid-70s when both shut down dedicated nuclear weapons programs at U.S. insistence. As with Pakistan today, the U.S. Government was concerned that if those two nations acquired nuclear weapons, they actually might make use of them in bitter, longstanding regional conflicts.
At the outset, then, I would like to make two points about Pakistan:
First, we have real reasons to be concerned about Pakistan's nuclear program: not only is a nuclear holy war with India possible, but Pakistani leaders have described their development of nuclear-weapons capability as being for the entire Islamic world --- a suggestion of an Islamic Bomb and all that that implies for U.S. interests.
Second, stopping a non-nuclear-weapons state from acquiring the bomb is not unprecedented for the United States. As we had with South Korea and Taiwan, we have leverage with Pakistan if we are prepared to use it. In this case, the leverage is more difficult to apply because there is a considerable competing U.S. interest: Afghanistan. But the need to apply the leverage on Pakistan is no less important --- indeed, in my view, far more important --- than in the cases of Korea and Taiwan.
The leverage in this case, as it was in those, is security assistance. In this case, at stake is a total aid package of $4.02-billion over a six year period, of which nearly half is military assistance that Pakistan needs to deter India as well as the Soviet Union. But ever since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, U.S. offers of aid have worked as leverage against the United States' non-proliferation efforts rather than against Pakistan's nuclear-weapons development program. The principal reason for this is that Pakistan has correctly perceived that the United States would be prepared to do almost anything to enlist Pakistan to help thwart the Soviets in Afghanistan --- even to to the extent of looking the other way while Pakistan builds its bomb. In that sense, Afghanistan provides a striking case history of what often happens to non- proliferation policy when it comes up against a competing foreign-policy interest. It loses, badly.
The legislative history of the waivers of the aid cut-off requirements of the Glenn-Symington amendment provides compelling evidence that President Zia is right: the United States has been prepared to let Pakistan go far in developing nuclear weapons, in fact just short of assembling or testing a device. This is sometimes called the "bomb in the closet" approach --- that is, the implicit assumption that Pakistan's having a bomb (presumably the unassembled components of a bomb) in storage is better for U.S. interests than Pakistan's having an assembled device in a test hole or in a deliverable weapon.
This approach has had the presumed advantage of leaving the United States free to work quietly, in cooperation with other governments, to interdict supplies of essential materials and components that Pakistan needs to complete and operate its unsafeguarded centrifuge enrichment plant and to build weapons components.
The flaw in this approach is that, at best, it has only bought us time; it has slowed down Pakistan's weapons program somewhat, but it has left the way clear for Pakistan to pursue its ultimate objective --- production of enough nuclear material and weapons components for a respectable arsenal, perhaps a few dozen warheads. By drawing the line that Pakistan should not cross at the assembling and testing of a nuclear device, rather than at the production of the highly enriched uranium needed to make weapons, the United States has missed the true choke-point of the Pakistani weapons program.
The Committee members are familiar with many examples of Pakistan's relentless pursuit of the bomb --- the theft of blueprints of a centrifuge enrichment plant from the Netherlands, the import of components and technology from Europe for construction of the unsafeguarded plant, the acquisition of a complete unsafeguarded uranium conversion plant from a company in West Germany, and Pakistan's buying missions to acquire specialized steel tubing from a West German company, and krytrons, maraging steel and beryllium from U.S. companies.
U.S. efforts to stem the flow, although laudable, represent what could be called the "Hans Brinker finger-in-the-dike" approach to non- proliferation policy. Unlike the legendary Dutch boy, however, the United States and its allies have had too few fingers for too many holes in the dike. In the space of a few years years, Pakistan, with considerable help from Chinese technicians, has turned the stolen blueprints into an operating enrichment plant that, thus far, has produced perhaps enough HEU for one or two weapons and now can produce at least one or two bomb's worth a year. Pakistan is on the threshold of developing a nuclear arsenal that could threaten India and trigger a nuclear arms race on the Subcontinent.
it is for this reason that Congressional consideration of the aid package for Pakistan represents a watershed for U.S. nonproliferation efforts. if we back off once again, thereby permitting aid to Pakistan to go forward in the face of a nuclear weapons program that is no longer ambiguous, the outcome could be catastrophic for the region as well as for the future of U.S. global non-proliferation efforts.
But what should the United States do next? Our efforts to influence Pakistan to suspend its nuclear weapons program are no longer credible, if they ever were credible, in Islamabad. Twice the United States has cut off aid to Pakistan and twice it was restored. Cut offs were required under the Symington and the Glenn amendments, which were enacted in 1976 and 1977, respectively, and which together require termination of military and economic assistance to countries that acquire unsafeguarded enrichment or reprocessing facilities or detonate nuclear devices. The United States, without invoking the Glenn amendment, did cut off aid in 1977 for about a year because of Pakistan's imports of reprocessing technology from France. In 1979, the U.S. cut off aid pursuant to the Symington amendment in response to Pakistan's construction of an unsafeguarded enrichment plant at Kahuta, using the stolen Dutch blueprints as well as unsafeguarded imports of components and technology from Europe.
After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December of 1979, however, the United States wooed President Zia, finally persuading him in 1981 to accept a $3.2-billion aid package after he had rejected an earlier offer of $400-million in aid as "peanuts." Because the President was unable to make the necessary finding under the Symington amendment that he had received "reliable assurances" that Pakistan would not acquire or develop nuclear weapons, Congress agreed to suspend the Symington amendment with respect to Pakistan for the six-year duration of the aid agreement.
The United States did not give up its efforts to dissuade Pakistan from developing nuclear weapons. In 1984, President Reagan wrote to President Zia asking for assurances that Pakistan would not enrich uranium beyond the five per cent level, and President Zia responded by agreeing to this limit. The following year, Congress passed two laws responding to further evidence that Pakistan was developing a bomb, including the conviction of a Pakistani national for attempting to illegally export from the United States high-speed electronic switches used in nuclear weapons. The Glenn-Cranston amendment was enacted to require a cut off of aid if Pakistan were found by the President "to possess a nuclear device"; the Solarz amendment was enacted to bar aid to non-nuclear weapons states seeking to illegally export nuclear items from the United States.
These measures, however, were of no avail: Pakistan pressed on with its nuclear weapons program, presumably emboldened by the failure of the United States to cut off aid under these measures. As Leonard Spector of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace observed in a recent study of restrictions on aid to Pakistan:
. . . on several occasions, the United States has backed away from enforcing the sanction of an aid cutoff against Pakistan, permitting the waiver of the Symington amendment through legislation in 1981, waiving the Glenn amendment by Presidential action in 1982, declining to react to the production of highly enriched uranium in 1986 despite the warning in President Reagan's 1984 letter, and interpreting the espossession-of-a-nuclear-explosive-device'I standard liberally in 1986 to avoid a suspension of assistance, even though Pakistan had apparently acquired the wherewithal for its first nuclear device.
Given this unfortunate record of U.S. concessions to Pakistan, is it yet possible for the United States to establish credibility with Pakistan and to restore the credibility of its non- proliferation policy generally? Now that the aid package is up for renewal, President Zia obviously expects us to back down again. Congressional renewal of the waiver of Glenn- Symington is made all the more difficult by the recent arrest of yet another Pakistani national seeking to smuggle critical nuclear components out of the United States --- an obvious violation of the Solarz amendment. What is Congress to do now that both the aid package and the waiver of Glenn-Symington have expired?
Congress has only one credible option: to finally provide President Zia a real choice between continuing his nuclear weapons program and continuing to rely upon the United States for military and economic assistance. To provide that choice, Congress need do nothing. If the original waiver contained in the Symington amendment is allowed to stand, no aid could go forward to Pakistan until the President certifies that he has received "reliable assurances" that Pakistan "will not acquire or develop nuclear weapons." It would be necessary, however, for the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations committees to inform the President that by "reliable assurances" the committees expect, at a minimum, that the U.S. would verify independently that Pakistan is no longer enriching uranium above 5 per cent.
On the other hand, although it may not be necessary for Congress to enact a new waiver, it is perhaps preferable that Congress do so to give the 5 per cent test the full weight of law with the legislative intent made manifestly clear. The waiver should cover all aid, not just military aid, in order to establish an unaffordably high price for Pakistan to continue its nuclearweapons program. At the same time, the waiver should extend for six years to provide a real incentive for President Zia to accept U.S. verification of the 5 per cent enrichment limit as the basic condition for continued aid.
It is important also to ensure by means of waiver legislation that the Congress is kept fully and currently informed of any nuclear developments involving Pakistan that would require an aid cut off. In this regard, the Director of Central Intelligence should be required to report promptly to the intelligence committees of both Houses any violations of the 5 per cent enrichment limit and any attempts by Pakistan to illegally import nuclear components from the United States or other countries. Such a report then should be followed promptly by a finding by the President as to whether a cut off of aid to Pakistan is required. This approach seems preferable to a requirement for semi- annual or annual reporting to Congress by the President, as has been proposed, to eliminate the possibility that Pakistan might enrich uranium to weapons-grade during the period between presidential reports.
In closing, I would like to address some of the arguments that have been raised against the United States taking a tough non- proliferation stand with Pakistan at this late date.
One argument raised frequently is that U.S. nonproliferation policy toward Pakistan is unfair because it singles out Pakistan but imposes no penalties on India or Israel---two nations that already have crossed the nuclear-weapons threshold. It is incorrect to conclude that India and Israel have not paid a price for developing nuclear-weapons capabilities. U.S. law bars the export of reactors and reactor fuel to these and other countries that have remained outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and have refused to place all their facilities under international safeguards. Such an embargo has also been imposed on a de facto basis by the other principal nuclear suppliers, and this action has had the effect of blocking commercial nuclear power development in Israel and slowing it down considerably in India.
On the other hand, there is no question that serious mistakes were made by the United States in failing to respond to Israeli and Indian weapons development efforts. For example, it took the State Department two years finally to acknowledge, under Congressional duress, the role of U.S. heavy water in India's production of plutonium for its 1974 nuclear test. By that time, any opportunity for influencing India was lost, or at least exceedingly diminished, and U.S. policy ever since has been to accommodate India, even to the extent of finding alternative foreign suppliers of fuel and components that the United States, by law, is barred from exporting.
With regard to Israel, the United States is yet to respond to Israel's smuggling of about 200 lbs. of highly enriched uranium from a U.S. nuclear fuel plant more than 20 years ago. Nor has the United States responded to Israel's apparent diversion of a 200-ton shipment of natural uranium needed for its unsafeguarded Dimona reactor in 1968, nor to the recent revelations by an Israeli nuclear plant worker about the size and sophistication of Israel's nuclear arsenal.
Having said this, let me stress that it makes no sense whatever to use these past failures of U.S. non-proliferation policy toward Israel and India as an excuse or precedent for throwing in the towel with regard to Pakistan's weapons program. Indeed, we should learn from these past mistakes an important lesson: if we assume nuclear proliferation to be inevitable, of course it will be.
Finally, there is the argument that the United States cannot take a strong non-proliferation stance regarding Pakistan without compromising U.S. security interests in the region, including Afghanistan. It is assumed by those making this argument that President Zia, even if he wanted to, could never agree to U.S. verification of a cut off in production of highly enriched uranium. The domestic political price presumably would be too high. Yet, his commitment not to enrich beyond 5 per cent has been well publicized in Pakistan without causing any furor. Why, then, would an agreement for verification of what he has solemnly promised to do cause him substantial political harm?
In the final analysis, a nuclear weapons program cannot be as important to Pakistan as continued U.S. military and economic assistance. A Pakistani weapons program is only likely to fuel a nuclear arms race in South Asia which Pakistan cannot possibly win. It would further raise tensions with India to an extremely high level, creating the risk of a conventional or nuclear war in which, given India's overwhelming military superiority, Pakistan would sustain almost certain defeat. At the same time, Pakistan needs U.S. military assistance to deal with the Soviet Union. As a practical matter, since Pakistan cannot be expected to deal with the Soviets and the Afghan government from a position of weakness, it must have continued U.S. military support if it is to be able to maintain its position of political and military strength.
In addition, failure to follow a forceful nonproliferation policy regarding Pakistan has potential significant, adverse consequences outside the region. Development of nuclear weapons by Pakistan could lead to the realization of an Islamic bomb. It is by no means clear that Pakistan, having taken the drastic course of producing nuclear weapons, would not choose to share such weapons or weapons materials and technology with other nations or elements of the Islamic world. The direct danger that such action would present to Israel and to the United States should be of paramount concern to the Committee.
Let me conclude by emphasizing that the United States' credibility is on the line. Although the President of Pakistan has publicly stated that his country is not producing weaponsgrade uranium, in fact U.S. intelligence information shows that this is not the case. Unless Congress takes meaningful action on the basis of this information --- action that gives Pakistan a clear choice between continuing its nuclear weapons program and continuing to receive U.S. military assistance --- the United States will be showing to the world that it is willing to look the other way, even in the face of incontrovertible facts, when there are gross violations of basic nonproliferation commitments. As matters now stand, the leader of a developing nation, standing outside the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty, will have faced down the United States, blatantly lying about the nature of his nuclear program and correctly assuming that we will allow his deception to remain unanswered in the interest of "higher" U.S. priorities.
How the Congress approaches aid to Pakistan in the context of its nuclear program is a U.S. security issue of the first magnitude. It is essential to take a meaningful stand to deter Pakistani nuclear weapons development so that U.S. credibility and resolve can be preserved with regard to stopping the further spread of nuclear weapons.
India-Pakistan Central What's NewHome Page