Alert Sign Dear reader, online ads enable us to deliver the journalism you value. Please support us by taking a moment to turn off Adblock on

Alert Sign Dear reader, please upgrade to the latest version of IE to have a better reading experience


How Israel collected information about Pakistani nukes

Published Dec 18, 2012 09:31pm


Your Name:

Recipient Email:

Former U.S. naval intelligence clerk Jonathan Pollard speaks during an interview, May 15, 1998. — Photo by AP

WASHINGTON: One of the major tasks of Jonathan Pollard, an Israeli spy in the United States, was to collect information about Pakistan’s nuclear programme, according to a document released this week.

In 1984 and 1985, Mr Pollard passed on to his Israeli handlers several sets of official US documents about the Kahuta plant.

Mr Pollard, although an American citizen, spied for Israel while working for the US Navy’s intelligence service. In 1987, he was sentenced to life in prison for spying but can be released on parole on Nov 21, 2015.

Last week the CIA released a classified document — “The Jonathan Jay Pollard Espionage Case: A Damage Assessment” — it had prepared on Oct 30, 1987.

The document, declassified on an appeal by the George Washington University’s National Security Archive project, contains previously classified information about Mr Pollard’s activities as an Israeli mole in the US intelligence system. The archive is a non-profit organisation working to reduce secrecy in the US government.

In a testimony to the trial court, former US defence secretary Caspar Weinberger said the documents Mr Pollard provided to the Israelis could fill a 6’x6’x10’ space.

The CIA document showed that Mr Pollard focused on “Arab (and Pakistani) nuclear intelligence; Arab exotic weaponry, including chemical weapons; Soviet aircraft; Soviet air defences; Soviet air-to-air missiles and air-to-surface missiles; and Arab order-of-battle, deployments, readiness”.

In a section titled “Implications of Compromises — What Israel Gained from Pollard’s Espionage”, the document reveals that “Mr Pollard’s stolen material, from the Israeli perspective, provided significant benefits [redacted] …. Page 59, [redacted] Pollard’s deliveries concerning PLO headquarters near Tunis, Tunisian and Libyan air defences, and Pakistan’s plutonium reprocessing facility near Islamabad”.

Israel used this information to attack the PLO headquarters in Tunis in Oct 1985.

There are 10 references to Pakistan and its nuclear facilities in the document but details have been erased from the copy posted on the archive’s website.

At one place, the CIA says that “political and economic intelligence was deemed less valuable than military and technical material” about all Middle Eastern countries, which one of Mr Pollard’s handlers, Yagur, defined as “ranging from Morocco to Pakistan and from Lebanon to Yemen.”

Some pages also contained information about the Afghan war and Pakistan’s role in that war.

Although the CIA document does not reveal what the Americans knew about Pakistan’s nuclear programme, other recently declassified documents, posted on the same website do.

The records show that by 1980s the Americans knew that Pakistan had a fairly advanced nuclear programme, but Islamabad’s support for the US-led war against the Soviets in Afghanistan prevented them from taking any major action against the Pakistanis.

In July 1982, the Reagan administration sent former CIA deputy director Gen Vernon Walters to meet Gen Muhammad Ziaul Haq with US intelligence reports about “an upswing of clandestine Pakistani efforts” to procure nuclear weapons. Confronted with the evidence, Gen Zia acknowledged that the information “must be true”, but restated earlier promises not to develop a nuclear weapon and made pledges to avoid specific nuclear “firebreaks”.

In 1986, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency director Kenneth Adelman also warned the White House that Pakistan was secretly enhancing its nuclear capability, but “top levels of the US government let relations with a friendly government supersede non-proliferation goals as long as there was no public controversy”.

One document claims that the Reagan administration did not even want the Pakistanis to share their secrets with them because they “feared that … the ‘truth’ would have made it impossible for them to certify to Congress that Pakistan was not developing nuclear weapons”.

And on that certification “rode the continued flow of aid to assist the Afghanistan resistance,” the document adds.

The records suggest that “lack of trust and confidence was an important element in the US-Pakistan relationship, as it is today”.

By the early summer of 1981, State Department intelligence estimated that the Pakistanis were “probably capable of producing a workable device at this time,” although the Kahuta enrichment plant was unlikely to produce enough fissile material for a test until 1983.

But in December 1982, Secretary of State George Shultz warned President Reagan of the “overwhelming evidence that Gen Zia has been breaking his assurances” of not making a nuclear weapon.

In the spring of 1987, senior State Department officials wrote that Pakistani nuclear development activities were proceeding apace and that General Zia was approaching a “threshold which he cannot cross without blatantly violating his pledge not to embarrass the President”.


Your Name:

Recipient Email:

Comments (38) Closed

Shan Dec 19, 2012 06:20pm
We need all that but first and foremost we need better quality of life for our people?... Have we achieved that through Nuclear bomb. ....... NO We have not
Jamshed Khan Dec 20, 2012 07:59am
What is the point of your comment?
cautious Dec 19, 2012 03:05pm
I thought Israel controlled the USA -- someone please explain why Jonathan Pollard is still in jail?
Indusonian Dec 20, 2012 04:15am
When enemy is faceless and when enemy conceals behind prominent faces - that is the name of the game being played in Pakistan. I have said over and over that Pakistan is in grave danger, not from the standpoint of physical breach of her borders at this point; however, the attack from within has more devastating and destructive. And that intelligence attack is being carried out by the enemies with great success - meaning mission being accomplished for them.
Imran Kakakhel Dec 19, 2012 06:03am
very impressive information, but we need more like this in our current situation
Ali Dec 20, 2012 03:50am
Just to prove those liberals a point who think Israel is not Pakistan's enemy.
Shoaib Dec 19, 2012 08:37am
no comment !
shaaz Dec 19, 2012 01:19pm
Like in Balochistan and Waziristan?
MOHAMMAD Dec 19, 2012 01:20pm
yes. we have the right to defend ourselves. we need energy and electricity. we need development.
Jamshed Khan Dec 20, 2012 07:58am
Pakistanis are eating grass for other reasons, not because ZAB said so, or because we have the nukes.
Abdullah Dec 20, 2012 08:13am
I don't understand why are you writing Mr. Pollard every where in this article? why so much respect?
DrTK Dec 19, 2012 11:39pm
What benefit will Nuclear Weapons bring for the poverty stricken masses of Pakistan? Only one of three countries in the world still having polio; a plummeting economy; a burgeoning population that is out of control and no Health care to speak of; no education, and no future. Someone should explain to me why we should be proud to own Nuclear bombs??
Mohammad Arif Dec 20, 2012 08:09am
For that vote to Imran Khan, vote to PTI and get rid of the rest. Insha Allah your dreams will be fulfilled.
zak Dec 19, 2012 05:28pm
Pakistan look after its interests?! it could not look after the Eastern wing of its country ....
mansoor Dec 20, 2012 03:40am
One can understand the American administration ways of dealing when their interests are involved. The US aministration can look the other way when their interests are involved and thats how we developed our nukes. This thing we couldnt use to our advantage when osama was hiding in afghanistan. Our spy masters couldnt realise the aftermath , if so called al qaeeda strikes in US. If we could have facilitated US oil company to get oil and gas from turkmenistan, thru afghanstan, we would have been in a much better position. We blew up that chance and now we are facing the wrath of the modern world and are termed as most dangerous country of the world.
karim Dec 19, 2012 05:43pm
Pakistan's vital interests have been damaged by jehadi groups like Taliban, LeJ, etc.
Pakistani Dec 20, 2012 12:47am
Whats the point of this article. Can't U folks write something purposeful
Bong Dec 20, 2012 07:27am
Yes we can see the development in Pakistan - It has become topmost country with respect to....errr...!!
Anwar Saadat Karak Dec 19, 2012 01:48pm
Becoming a nuclear power is a great achievement, no doubt, but curtailing the rapid corruption is far more greatest success.I fear that even the nuclear Pakistant will be disintegrated in the presence of corrupt and unscrupulous politicians.
Sardar Asghar Nadeem Jootah Dec 20, 2012 05:46am
Pakistan did what was important for his national interest & we should carry on what is important for us. we should focus on having law abiding society, equal justice for all, correction free decision making team in government & private organizations.
ghaleezguftar Dec 19, 2012 07:09pm
and that was our this year's nobel prize nominee!
M. Asghar Dec 19, 2012 11:13am
Like everybody, Pakistan has looked/will look after its vital interests.
Goga Nalaik Dec 19, 2012 03:04pm
Nothing new in this article. In today's world, it is called 'industrial espionage'. I would like to read about Israel's nuclear production. It is well known in Europe but nobody dares talk about ...
Shahid Dec 19, 2012 02:05pm
feels, like i am reading an article written by Zaid Hamid, heard him saying this many times before. how far a conspiracy can go???
Owais Dec 19, 2012 02:14pm
Taliban are anti-Pakistan and work in favor of anti-Pakistan forces
umair khan Dec 19, 2012 04:13pm
From where ttp gets support?
pathanoo Dec 19, 2012 07:38pm
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto said in the UN,"Ham Ghass khayenge per Nuclear Bumb banayenge." We will eat grass but will have the Nuclear Bomb. Well, Give it to Zulfikar. He was prophetic. Pakistan has the bomb and the Pakistanis are eating grass paying the price of having the bomb.
ghaleezguftar Dec 19, 2012 12:06pm
no no its a conspiracy theory! what has israel and US have to do with pakistan. they dont run operations in this country. its the taliban! the taliban !
Logical Dec 19, 2012 03:36pm
Can you please explain in detail, what are the interests of Pakistan anyway ? and what was achieved with the nuclear weapons ?? and how it made your country safe and better place after getting these weapons ??
SMV Dec 19, 2012 08:09pm
Just imagine the progress the wold can make, if there was no military and no need for weapons! So much money, all spent on the betterment of people, eradicate diseases, reduce death rates, investments in R&D, space programs.. the possibilities are endless. Yet, we choose to build politics around nukes, spying on each other and take pride in how much destruction power we have. Our priorities are so wrong...
ali Dec 19, 2012 08:03pm
well taliban wasnt against any pakistani until the americans invaded afghanistan
Imran Dec 19, 2012 02:18pm
Whats the real point of this article at this point? Who cares how Israel got hold of information about our nukes?
HM Dec 19, 2012 08:52pm
Don't only blame politicians for every thing ordinary people are equally to be blamed...for corruption, law and order etc. etc.
Haseeb Dec 21, 2012 01:54pm
DrTK, You wouldn't have existed as your enemy always wanted you to destroy. That's the point. Unfortunately we cant say that we'll defend ourselved when we are rich and educated. It has to be done 'before'.
george Dec 21, 2012 11:57pm
You may hate the jews as much as you like, but do not forget they are very educated,clever ,talented and rich people. They also love their country too much. Spending twenty years in jail to help their country is nothing to a jewish man. And yes,they control the world,not only America.
Nasir Dec 22, 2012 01:10pm
you should be proud to be free and alive
Nasir Dec 22, 2012 01:15pm
Nasir Dec 22, 2012 01:16pm
Ask your politicians why?