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‘Pak under Zia-ul-Haq broke promise on uranium enrichment’

Zia ul Haq and Ronald reagan

Washington: Pakistan under dictator General Zia-ul-Haq’s administration broke its promise on uranium enrichment in the 1980s, a series of newly declassified documents have shown amid reports that the US is considering a civil nuclear deal with the country.

According to the latest declassified documents released by National Security Archive, the then military dictator General Haq assured that Pakistan would not enrich uranium above five per cent and in lieu of it extracted huge amount of financial aid and modern military assistance from the US.

“I appreciate the assurances you gave Ambassador Hinton that Pakistan would not enrich uranium above the five per cent level,” the then US President Ronald Reagan wrote in a letter to Zia on September 12, 1984.

In the letter, Regan expressed concern over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme.

“I must candidly state that enrichment of uranium above five per cent would be of the same significance as those  nuclear activities, such as unsafeguarded reprocessing, which I personally discussed with you in December 1982 and would have the same implications for our security programme and relationship,” Regan said.

In fact, Regan in his letter warned that if Pakistan goes ahead with his nuclear weapons programme, it might attract untoward action from other countries in the region.

“I have personally discussed with you my concerns about stemming nuclear proliferation, and my Administration remains fully committed on this issue,” he wrote.

“Concern is also growing in Congress and among the public about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme. I am mindful that other countries in the region might use this issue as a pretext for untoward action towards Pakistan,” Regan said.

By saying so, Regan was referring to the CIA assessment that India was planning to carry out strikes against Pakistani nuclear facilities.

A talking point memo ahead of the letter refers to this. The talking points, which has now been declassified and made public by NSA, refer to Washington’s “judgement” that it is “likely that at some point India will take military action to pre-empt your military programme.”

Such a possibility had been discussed in previous national intelligence estimates.

Consistent with the allusion to an Indian threat, the talking points included an inducement for Pakistan to adopt safeguards on its nuclear facilities, in light of the threats that Pakistan faced, “we would be prepared to act promptly to discourage or help deter such action as you move toward safeguards.”

Whether this offer, close to a security guarantee, was actually made to General Zia remains to be learned, the NSA said.

The declassification of documents comes amid a Washington Post report which said the US is negotiating a pact on new limits on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and delivery systems, a deal that might lead to an agreement similar to the Indo-US civil nuclear deal.

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