Nuclear proliferation and US attitudes to South Asia


Oct 8, 2009
An interesting insight from the US prespective of nuclear weapons technology proliferation from China to Pakistan as well as nuclear enrichment technology from Europe using front organisations. Also includes information on Indian perceptions.

India and Pakistan -- On the Nuclear Threshold
by Joyce Battle

This briefing book contains material from the National Security Archive’s project on U.S. policy toward South Asia, which is documenting nuclear developments in India and Pakistan from the 1950s to the present. The Archive is collecting U.S. government records that illustrate American policies and perspectives. Information is being collected from the National Archives and the presidential libraries, and through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Mandatory Review requests, used to obtain the declassification of now- secret materials. A selective and focused collection of documents will be made available to researchers.

The project is creating a comprehensive history of nuclear developments in South Asia, including weapons programs in India and Pakistan, as well as international efforts to curtail proliferation in the region. Information about factors that influenced nuclear issues, such as the unresolved enmity between India and Pakistan, and India’s perception of China as a security threat, will also be incorporated. The U.S. has generally opposed nuclear proliferation in South Asia, while seeking to preserve good relations with both India and Pakistan. At times, however, its commitment has been questioned, because it has seemed to subordinate nonproliferation policy to other concerns. During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, for instance, the U.S. provided massive levels of economic and military aid to its ally, Pakistan. The assistance was widely criticized, because Pakistan was demonstrably importing nuclear-related material, from China and other nations. Few doubted that it was engaged in an active nuclear weapons development program.

China’s role as a leading provider of sensitive technology to Pakistan has repeatedly strained U.S.-China relations, and has complicated efforts to expand U.S.-China trade. The Archive’s South Asia project is using the FOIA to seek the declassification of documents discussing this issue, and other contemporary and controversial topics. Materials collected for this project will, of course, reflect a U.S. perspective. As noted, non-proliferation policy is influenced by other concerns, including competition among the major powers. The Archive’s efforts are directed toward enhancing understanding of U.S. decisions and the issues that influenced policy formulation. The analyst for the South Asia nuclear project is Joyce Battle, who prepared this briefing book. She is also the analyst for the Archive’s documentation projects on the Persian Gulf and U.S. policy toward Iraq. Materials collected for the latter project were published in a document set, Iraqgate: Saddam Hussein, U.S. Policy and the Prelude to the Persian Gulf War, 1980-1994 (Chadwyck-Healey, 1994). She has an MA in Middle East Studies from Harvard and an MS in Library Science from Columbia.

This project receives generous support from the W. Alton Jones Foundation.

Briefing Book Documents
The documents in the briefing book date from 1961 to 1983. In 1961, India had an advanced civilian nuclear program, while Pakistan’s was in its early stages. In 1983, nine years had elapsed since India’s explosion of a nuclear device, and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program was well under way.

During the early 1960s, India under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru strongly advocated global disarmament, but was apprehensive about China’s nuclear weapons program. India’s concern increased following its October 1962 territorial war with China. The stakes were raised by China’s first nuclear weapons test in October 1964. Many observers thought it increasingly likely that India would respond to China’s actions by seeking its own weapons capability. War with Pakistan in 1965 further alarmed India: it was angered by China’s outspoken support for Pakistan during the conflict, and disappointed by what it viewed as insufficient Western attention to its security needs. The U.S. considered various options that might dissuade India from developing nuclear weapons, including scientific cooperation aimed at enhancing India’s national prestige. It also joined in cooperative arrangements with both India and Pakistan to monitor nuclear and missile developments in China and the Soviet Union. India, for its part, launched a campaign seeking security guarantees to shield it from Chinese nuclear attack, arguing that such assurances might make a nuclear weapons program of its own unnecessary. Various options were proposed: U.S. guarantees, joint U.S.-Soviet guarantees, guarantees from all the nuclear states, British guarantees, or guarantees in conjunction with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, then being negotiated. U.S. policy makers seriously considered these proposals, although some doubted that they would deter India from developing a bomb.

The Embassy in New Delhi viewed India’s overtures sympathetically, while the Defense Department opposed any commitment to India that would alienate Pakistan, a U.S. military ally. In 1967, both President Lyndon Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara supported the concept of guarantees during meetings with a visiting Indian representative. Later that year, U.S. and Soviet officials were still discussing security guarantees, hoping to induce India to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. No agreement was ever reached, however, in part because India itself concluded that such commitments would not guarantee its security in the event of actual nuclear conflict. In May 1974 India tested a nuclear device, although it called the event a “peaceful nuclear explosion.” Its terminology did not forestall censure, both within the international community and from domestic critics. The test had serious consequences: India lost much of the foreign technical assistance that had till then sustained its civilian nuclear program. A Pakistani reaction to India’s test of a nuclear explosive was predicted, and confirmed within a few years. By the mid-1970s, intelligence reports indicated that Pakistan had an active nuclear weapons program, and in 1983 the State Department noted that it had “unambiguous evidence” of this fact. Documents in this briefing book illuminate aspects of the internal debate among U.S. officials, as they attempted to formulate effective policies toward nuclear proliferation in South Asia while protecting sometimes conflicting interests and objectives.

India and Pakistan -- On the Nuclear Threshold

Also see: State Department Briefing Paper: “The Pakistani Nuclear Program,” June 23, 1983 (SECRET)
The State Department reports that there is “unambiguous evidence that Pakistan is actively pursuing a nuclear weapons development program.” It says that the U.S. has information indicating that Pakistan began to develop a nuclear explosive device “soon after the 1974 Indian nuclear test.” Pakistan has obtained technology for its research in Europe, using procurement agents and front organizations. The U.S. has also concluded that China is assisting Pakistan’s nuclear program: it believes that they have cooperated in the production of fissile material, and possibly also in “nuclear device design.” (During the 1980s, the U.S. was criticized for providing massive levels of aid to Pakistan, its military ally, despite laws barring assistance to any country that imported certain technology related to nuclear weapons. President Ronald Reagan waived the legislation, arguing that cutting off aid would harm U.S. national interests.)
Feb 16, 2009
Country flag
This the reason the Indian nuclear weapon has changed from being limited to Pakistan to now being more China focused. US did expand trade with China no matter how upset they claimed to be about the nuclear proliferation between China and Pakistan. USA also helped India to be more China specific in the nuclear weapons program by giving us the Bush nuclear deal, though it is a civilian nuclear deal it let's us import fuel that we would have used from indigineous sources at the expense of our weapons program. Now with fuel being imported all the indigenous fuel and there is plenty of it can be put into the nuclear weapons program if we choose.

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