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Case Studies in Sanctions and Terrorism: Pakistan

Case Studies in Sanctions and Terrorism

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Case 79-2:
US v. Pakistan (1979– : Nuclear Missile Proliferation)
See also Case 99-3
US, Japan v. Pakistan (1999–2001: Coup, restore democracy)

| Chronology of Key Events | Goals of Sender Country | Response to Target Country |
Attitude of Other Countries | Economic Impact | Assessment | Author's Summary |
Bibliography |

Goals of Sender Country

December 1, 1979
Howard B. Schaffer, country director for India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka affairs, US State Department: "Our ability to provide Pakistan with the support we would wish to give it has been restricted by Pakistan's nuclear activities. Our legislation mandates a cutoff of most development and military assistance to countries which import certain sensitive nuclear equipment, material, and technology, including equipment used for uranium enrichment. The fact that Pakistan has been developing a uranium enrichment program which is inconsistent with its power generation or research needs has caused us deep concern. ... We have expressed our concern to the Pakistanis about their nuclear activities and have urged them not to move forward to develop a nuclear explosives capability. We believe that the development of such a capability would aggravate rather than relieve their security concerns and could be a major source of instability in the South Asian region." (US Department of State, Bulletin, February 1980, 63)

January 21, 1980
President Jimmy Carter, State of the Union message: "A high priority for us in the region is to manage our nuclear concerns with India and Pakistan in ways that are compatible with our global and regional priorities. The changed security situation in South Asia arising from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan calls for legislative action to allow renewed assistance to Pakistan. But this in no way diminishes our commitment to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation, in Pakistan or elsewhere." (US Department of State, Bulletin, February 1980, special section, p. L)

Fall 1986
Unidentified senior Reagan administration official: Because of priority accorded support for Afghan rebels, which is channeled through Pakistan, "This administration wouldn't come down on Pakistan if we found a bomb in Zia's basement." (Washington Post, 4 November 1986, A1)

June 1998
Assistant Secretary of State Karl Inderfurth: "We will be looking for both parties [India and Pakistan] to take such steps as:

  • Sign and ratify CTBT without delay or condition
  • Halt production of fissile material and participate constructively on FMCT [Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty] negotiations
  • Accept IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] safeguards on all nuclear facilities
  • Agree not to deploy or test missile systems
  • Maintain existing restraints against sharing nuclear and missile technology or equipment with others
  • Agree upon a framework to reduce bilateral tensions, including on Kashmir" (USIS, 3 June 1998)


Response of Target Country

April 9, 1979
Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs attributes US ban to influence of "Zionist circles" that it says fear that development of atomic bomb in this Islamic country would be used by "Muslim world" to menace Israel. Official labels ban "discriminatory" and "incomprehensible," concedes that while amount of aid involved is small ($80 million per year) "any diminution would be felt." (New York Times, 9 April 1979, 1)

Summer 1979
President Zia declares: "Pakistan would never compromise on its sovereignty. Our economic aid has been affected but we have absorbed its impact and the entire nation supports the government's stand because it is united on this issue. ... we shall eat crumbs [but] not allow our national interest to be compromised in any manner whatsoever." (Tahir-Kheli 135)

July 22, 1979
Khalid Ali, press counselor at Pakistani embassy in US: "Pakistan is prepared to make a joint declaration with India and other states in South Asia to renounce the acquisition or manufacture of nuclear weapons. Pakistan is ready to proceed with the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in South Asia. Pakistan would also be prepared to accept international inspection of all nuclear facilities in the South Asian region, or if India prefers, a system of bilateral inspection on a reciprocal basis." (New York Times, 22 July 1979, IV 18)

March 1987
Zia, in an interview with Time: "Pakistan has the capability of building the Bomb whenever it wishes." But in same interview Zia denies that Pakistan intends to manufacture nuclear weapons or that it has enriched uranium to weapons grade. (Spector 1988, 133-34)

Unnamed Pakistanis, after invocation of Pressler amendment: "Now that the Afghan war is over, the US no longer needs Pakistan. You Americans have discarded us like a piece of used Kleenex." (Kux 116)

May 1998
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif: "They [nuclear scientists] have demonstrated Pakistan's ability to deter aggression. Pakistan has been obliged to exercise the nuclear option because of the weaponization of India's nuclear program. This had led to the collapse of existing deterrence and had radically altered the strategic balance in our region." (New York Times, 29 May 1998, A8)

August 1998
Foreign Ministry spokesman Tariq Altaf: "We have a large and multifaceted relationship with the U.S. We can cooperate on certain things while disagreeing on others. We know they are concerned about non-proliferation, but they must understand we have an absolute and genuine security need, and it is counterproductive to penalize us for it this way." (Washington Post, 26 August 1998, A15)

Attitude of Other Countries

World Bank, West Germany, Japan
In May 1979 the World Bank and the International Development Association (IDA) announce approval of loans totaling $79 million to Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the Philippines. In June 1980 the US respond to pressure from Japan and West Germany, allowing rescheduling of Pakistan's $5.1 billion debt held by a consortium of advanced countries. (New York Times, 1 June 1979, IV 18)

Middle East, North Africa
In early April 1979 Saudi Arabia and other unnamed Persian Gulf states increase financial aid to Pakistan to offset the US cutoff. Saudi Arabia agrees to contribute $40 million together with unspecified amounts from other Gulf states. (Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Daily Report: The Middle East and Northern Africa, 13 April 1979, S3)

US intelligence sources say China has provided Pakistan with sensitive nuclear weapon design information; Pakistan's nuclear program since mid-1970s has been "clearly aimed at developing nuclear weapons." Sources believe US efforts have delayed but not diverted drive for atomic bomb. "By confirming for Pakistan that a particular weapon design could work, the Chinese may have made it possible for Pakistan to proceed with its effort to build atomic bombs without staging an early nuclear test that would bring a cutoff of American military aid." (Washington Post, 28 January 1983, A1)

Fall 1986: After reports that Pakistan has capability to produce highly enriched uranium, Indian nuclear officials warn that "India, too, could and would enrich uranium for weapons." (Washington Post, 6 November 1986, A21)

After the September 1995 decision to relax controls on Pakistan's previously purchased equipment, Foreign Ministry spokesman Arif Khan warned, "The U.S. move would not be conducive to promoting peace, security and stability in South Asia," adding that "India is committed to taking all necessary measures to counter the adverse effects on our security." (Associated Press, 22 September 1996)

Prime Minister Atal Vajpayee
In speech to Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament) after news of Pakistan's tests: "These (Pakistani) tests vindicate our policy. We had apprehensions about this. India is ready to meet any challenge." (Reuters, 28 May 1998)

Legal Notes

Symington amendment to Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, in International Security Assistance Act of 1977:
Sec. 669. Nuclear Enrichment Transfers.

    (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), no funds to be authorized by this Act or the Arms Export Control Act may be used for the purpose of providing economic assistance, providing military or security supporting assistance or granting military education or training, or extending military credits or making guarantees, to any country which, on or after the date of enactment of the International Security Assistance Act of 1977, delivers nuclear enrichment equipment, materials, or technology to any other country, or receives such equipment, materials, or technology from any other country, unless before such delivery, (1) the supplying country and receiving country have reached agreement to place all such equipment, materials, or technology upon delivery, under multilateral auspices and management when available; and (2) the recipient country has entered into an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency to place all such equipment, materials, technology, and all nuclear fuel and facilities in such country under the safeguards system of such Agency.
    (b) The President may waive this requirement if he determines that: (1) the termination of such assistance would have a serious adverse effect on vital United States interests; and (2) he has received reliable assurances that the country in question will not acquire or develop nuclear weapons or assist other nations in doing so. (Congressional Research Service 1980, 31)

1985 Pressler amendment:
"Prohibits furnishing Pakistan with military equipment or technology unless the President certifies to the Congress during the fiscal year in which such assistance is furnished that Pakistan does not possess a nuclear explosive device and that the proposed U.S. aid program will reduce significantly the risk that Pakistan will possess such a device." (Public Law 99-83, 8 August 1995)

1994 Glenn amendment, in Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act of 1994 (Sec. 826-a):
If ... the President determines that any country after April 30, 1994, ... (B) is a non-nuclear state and ... (ii) detonates a nuclear device, ... the President shall forthwith impose the following sanctions.

    (A) The United States Government shall terminate assistance to that country ... except for humanitarian assistance or other agricultural commodities.
    (B) The United States Government shall terminate (i) sales to that country under this act of any defense articles, defense services or design and construction services and (ii) licenses for the export to that country of any item on the United States Munitions List.
    (C) The United States Government shall terminate all foreign military financing for that country under this Act.
    (D) The United States Government shall deny to that country any credit, credit guarantees, or other financial assistance by any department, agency, or instrumentality of the United States Government, except ... [for] humanitarian assistance.
    (E) The United States Government shall oppose ... the extension of any loan or financial or technical assistance to that country by any international financial institution.
    (F) The United States Government shall prohibit any United States bank from making any loan or providing any credit to the government of that country, except for loans or credits for the purpose of purchasing food or other agricultural commodities.
    (G) The authorities of section 6 of the Export Administration Act of 1979 shall be used to prohibit exports to that country of specific goods and technology (excluding food and other agricultural commodities), except that such requirements shall not apply to any transaction subject to the reporting requirements of Title V of the National Security Act of 1947.

Waiver: None. The President may, however, delay the sanction for 30 session days.

Note: The administration never wrote the generic implementing regulations after the bill passed Congress and only released specific regulations implementing parts of the Indian and Pakistani sanctions on 19 November 1998, after most sanctions had been waived.

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
"Under article XIV (Entry into Force), the Treaty will not enter into force until it has been signed and ratified by the 44 States listed in annex 2 to the Treaty. ... If the Treaty has not entered into force "three years after the date of the anniversary of its opening for signature" [24 September 1999], a conference of those States that have already ratified it may be held to decide what measures may be taken to accelerate the ratification process and to facilitate the Treaty's entry into force." (Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization,

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