KARACHI: In the light of Pakistan’s advances to build a reprocessing plant for extracting plutonium, a top Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) official alerted the US government to the significant development, a declassified report highlighted.

The remarks were made by the then CIA deputy director to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board in November 1982, in a document titled ‘World Events Affecting the US’.

Marked under the subheading ‘Pakistan’s nuclear weapons development’, the document contains a brief entry to US officials’ knowledge of Pakistan’s attempts at the time towards building a nuclear weapon.

“Pakistanis continue to move towards the fabrication of a nuclear explosive device. They are buying components and equipment for building a nuclear implosion weapon and reportedly will start up the reprocessing plant for extracting plutonium within the next two months or so. President Zia knows that any reprocessing operations — even those which the Pakistanis may consider legal — could disrupt the US-Pakistani security relationship”.

In the entry, the official also adds that no information with regard to China’s involvement in Pakistan’s nuclear activities or Indian reactions has come to the forefront.

A declassified worldwide report, ‘Nuclear Development and Proliferation’, features a German newspaper report — dated July 1981 — detailing how German scientists and then Libyan head of state, Muammar Qadhafi, ‘secretly’ helped Pakistan become an atomic power.

“Only a few days ago, Pakistani dictator General Ziaul Haq claimed that his country had no intention of developing atomic weapons. But he is secretly working on making a bomb. Pakistan’s helpers—Federal Republic of Germany scientists and Libyan head of state Qadhafi with his oil millions,” the article starts.

It goes on to describe a meeting between three Germans and four Pakistanis, including “a high government official”.

“Production is in works since April, 1980. By 1982 at the latest, Pakistan will have enough fissionable material to be able to build its first atom bomb, something the US, Soviet and Israeli intelligence services have been afraid would happen ever since the mid-seventies. Details are not known by them, however—particularly not the way Germans perceive but that Pakistan is rising to the level of an atomic power”.

The report claims: “Qadhafi and [Zulfikar Ali] Bhutto agreed in a secret accord that Islamabad would build the bomb, and that Tripoli would fund it and receive finished nuclear weapons in return.”

The article further claims that Qadhafi transported $500 million to Karachi by air.

“To prevent Qadhafi’s oil millions for building the ‘Islamic bomb’ from going through state accounts that were checked by the International Monetary Fund, the deal between the two states was executed like smugglers. His couriers transported suitcases full of wad of dollars via Rome to Karachi in Pakistan International Airlines aircraft”.

Published in Dawn January 26th, 2017

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