Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee:
PAUL LEVENTHAL, PRESIDENT
NUCLEAR CONTROL INSTITUTE
ON PAKISTAN --- UPDATE ON DEMOCRACY AND NUCLEAR ISSUES
HOUSE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
SUBCOMMITTEE ON ASIAN AND PACIFIC AFFAIRS
Tuesday, October 2, 1990
Once again, you are being asked to decide whether Pakistan should continue to receive U.S. economic and military assistance in the face of Pakistan's development of nuclear weapons. This annual rite of autumn has turned into something of a Talmudic exercise. First, we must hear from the rabbi --- the President, in this case --- who will examine the meaning of the law and expound at some length, and with considerable richness of nuance, on why, or why not, the latest examples of Pakistan's nuclear behavior constitute a violation of the law. And then you must debate whether the President, indeed, has interpreted the law in relation to the facts correctly, and whether the law must be changed, as it has been from time to time, to achieve some greater purpose that requires the assistance to Pakistan to go forward regardless of the facts. And, in this fashion, obscure portions of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, become, like the Talmud, a dynamic instrument, subject to seemingly limitless discussion, interpretation and change, but the outcome of which is foreordained: the rabbi gets what he wants.
Since February of 1980, every President has wanted assistance to Pakistan to proceed regardless of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, and Congress has always given each President what he wanted. In 1981, when it became no longer possible for the President to certify, as the Symington Amendment required, that he had received "reliable assurances" that Pakistan "will not acquire or develop nuclear weapons," Congress agreed to pass a law permitting the President to waive that requirement for six years, and it later permitted him to waive it twice again, until 1991.
In 1984, it became known that Pakistan had acquired the design of a tested bomb from China and was preparing to enrich uranium to weapons-grade, thereby putting Pakistan in a position to build a bomb without violating a U.S. prohibition on testing that would mandate a termination of assistance. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee responded by unanimously approving a Cranston-Glenn amendment requiring termination of aid unless the President certified, first, that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear weapon and, second, that it was not acquiring technology, equipment or material to build one.
But when the White House informed the committee that aid to Pakistan would have to be terminated if the second part of the certification requirement became law, the committee responded by reopening the matter. It voted 8-7 to substitute the Pressler Amendment which required only a finding that Pakistan "does not possess a nuclear explosive device," along with an additional finding that continuation of assistance "will reduce significantly the risk" that Pakistan will possess one.
Each year since the Pressler Amendment became law, the White House has managed---with progressively tortured analysis and expressions of increasing concern --- to make the required finding that allowed U.S. assistance to Pakistan to continue.
No matter that Pakistan continued its illegal buying sprees for weapons components in the U.S. (causing the White House in 1988 to waive a cut-off of aid mandated by the Solarz Amendment).
No matter that Pakistan reneged on President Zia's commitment to President Reagan not to enrich uranium beyond 5%.
No matter that Pakistan, by means of clandestine purchases in Europe, built a tritium purification plant to provide the essential ingredient for boosting and miniaturizing warheads, and is building a production reactor to be used in conjunction with a reprocessing plant to provide plutonium for nuclear weapons.
No matter that Pakistan is designing aerodynamic bomb casings for nuclear warheads and outfitting its U.S.- supplied F-16s to deliver them.
There was always a "greater purpose" for continuing the assistance to Pakistan rather than facing the facts of Pakistan's relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons and enforcing the law.
Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan on December 25, 1979, the greater purpose was to ensure Pakistan's full cooperation in support of the resistance forces---something Pakistan already had begun doing in its own security interest. Pakistan was never given the choice that U.S. law had intended: to pursue a nuclear weapons program as the price of foregoing the U.S. military and economic aid Pakistan needed to secure itself against Indian and Soviet threats, or, to forego its nuclear weapons program in return for this vital assistance.
With the Soviets approaching Pakistan's northern border, this should have been a Hobson's choice for President Zia. But Zia, realizing how anxious the Americans were to begin funneling weapons to the mujahadeen, shrewdly reckoned he could have the U.S. aid and his nuclear weapons program, too. On first approaching Zia after the Soviet invasion, had we not blinked when he dismissed our initial offer as "peanuts"; had we replied, "O.K., have it your way," and given him some time to think over his perilous situation, we might well have been able to negotiate the significant aid package he wanted and the halt to his nuclearweapons program required as the quid pro quo by U.S. law. But our negotiators concluded early on that Zia held all the cards and gave him the aid and the nuclear carte blanche he was demanding.
I recount this history to suggest that it provides a valuable lesson applicable to the immediate situation. This time, if the President is unable to make the non-proliferation certification required by law regarding Pakistan, it should not be taken by Congress as an invitation to weaken legal requirements to permit the aid to Pakistan to continue. It should now be clear what happens when we ratchet down the law each time Pakistan ratchets up its nuclear weapons program.
Continuing the aid package to Pakistan has not significantly reduced the risk of Pakistan possessing a nuclear device, it has significantly increased it---indeed, made possession inevitable. The aid has not advanced U.S. non-proliferation interests, it has severely undercut them. The policy underlying the Pressler Amendment has proved to be a disaster because it provided a clear signal, not just to Pakistan and India, but to their principal suppliers, that the United States Government does not take nuclear proliferation seriously. We have been looking straight at it for 10 years in Pakistan, and we have acted as if we don't see it.
It should come as no surprise that other nations have treated U.S. demarches as "de marshmallows," as one wag put it, when we call to their attention objectionable nuclear assistance to Pakistan originating from within their borders. Nor have France or China been sympathetic to U.S. objections to their plans to export nuclear powerplants to Pakistan without requiring fullscope safeguards.
What, then, is the best course of action if, as expected, the President is unable to certify this year that Pakistan does not possess a nuclear device? To address that question, we first must be clear on our principal objective. That objective, in my view, should be to move our non-proliferation interests to the head of the line of competing priorities---ahead of Afghanistan and of restoring democracy in Pakistan, for example --- in order to get a handle on a nuclear situation in the region that is fast moving out of control.
The situation in South Asia is that both India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons, or at least the wherewithal to assemble components into deliverable warheads quickly --- and both sides know it. India still has a decided advantage in numbers and sophistication of warheads, but Pakistan by now has a credible deterrent. Both sides know this, as well. South Asia thus becomes the first region of the developing world in which principal rivals have achieved mutual nuclear deterrence. The challenge for the United States is to act in a way that promptly helps to cap the present situation, avoid triggering a nuclear arms race, and set the stage for a longer-term process of eventual reduction or elimination of nuclear weapons from the region as the two sides engage in confidence building and cooperation to make their nuclear programs more "transparent" to one another.
The essential first step is to cut off military and economic assistance to Pakistan---cleanly, completely, unambiguously. Assuming we have the evidence that Pakistan possesses a nuclear explosive device, or all of the necessary components, we really have no choice at this point but to act to uphold U.S. law. Further modifying the law to deny the reality, or cutting off military but not economic aid, would be halfway measures that could only aggravate the existing policy disaster.
The time has come to remove ourselves as the silent partner in Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. Only by doing so, in my view, can we regain credibility with Pakistan and have any positive influence on its nuclear actions from this point forward.
The next move should be left to Pakistan. We should make clear we will wait to hear from Pakistan on how the aid relationship could be resumed in a manner consistent with our interests and theirs. We, after all, are the aggrieved party; Pakistan misled us with false statements about the nature of its nuclear program. The restoration of aid and of the relationship with the U.S. should be important enough to Pakistan for it to make the first move.
After the President makes an adverse finding under the Pressler Amendment, U.S. law will have to be changed to permit aid to be restored to Pakistan in its "post-nuclear-explosive-device era." 1 do not believe, however, that any change should be made until we hear first from Pakistan. Any move on our part to move the process along, as we discovered the hard way in 1980, could be interpreted by Pakistan as a sign of weakness and lead to a less than optimal result for U.S. non-proliferation interests.
Therefore, speaking generally---rather than in terms of statutory language --- I believe any future certification to permit U.S. assistance to Pakistan should include determinations that Pakistan is (1) not producing any additional nuclear explosive devices, (2) not transferring separated plutonium, highly enriched uranium or tritium to other nations; (3) not transferring the technology for producing these materials or for manufacturing weapons to other nations, and (4) actively engaged in cooperative efforts to achieve greater transparency in nuclear programs and to reduce the numbers of nuclear explosive devices in the region.
There should be little risk, in the meantime, that an adverse finding by the President under the Pressler Amendment would cause India to act in a manner that threatens the already fragile stability of the region. The disclosure that Pakistan possesses a nuclear device will not come as a surprise to India, based on my discussions with Indian officials and defense experts. They have anticipated this information and accept the reality of Pakistan's deterrent. Given the present superiority of their nuclear capabilities, it is hardly in India's interest to trigger a nuclear arms race with Pakistan beyond present levels even if there were a popular outcry for such action. I believe only a nuclear test by Pakistan could incite India to assemble its weapons and move promptly to a test of its own, which would probably involve a thermonuclear device. For this reason, Pakistan is probably motivated not to spark that kind of competition with India.
In closing, I want to cover two points that are relevant to U.S. non-proliferation efforts in the region and elsewhere in the world:
First, we must recognize the importance of establishing effective controls over weapons-grade plutonium and uranium, as well as tritium, in civil nuclear programs, and discouraging or eliminating their production and use whenever possible. Our experience in Pakistan, and lately in Iraq, makes clear that it is the possession of sufficient quantities of these materials that determines whether a nation can develop nuclear weapons or not. Iraq does not yet have enough material to manufacture nuclear weapons, and, therefore, does not now pose a nuclear threat. Pakistan crossed the threshold when it produced enough highly enriched uranium to manufacture weapons; putting together its explosive device then became just a matter of time. The key to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons to additional nations or to parties unknown is to eliminate bomb-grade nuclear materials, which have no legitimate use in civil nuclear power and research programs.
Second, U.S.-Soviet cooperation can be very influential in helping to limit the nuclear arms race in South Asia and in discouraging other nations from seeking to acquire nuclear weapons. But unless the superpowers do more to put an end to their own nuclear competition, nations like India and Pakistan cannot be expected to exercise restraint for too long. Failure by the superpowers to halt nuclear testing and to shut down all of their military production reactors in the absence of hostility between them will only provide the threshold states a ready excuse for reserving or exercising these options themselves. Deep cuts in the numbers of nuclear weapons being negotiated by the superpowers are helping to bring the quantitative arms race to a close, but failure to cease nuclear testing and weapons-materials production will keep the qualitative arms race going and provide the wrong example to the world.
India-Pakistan Central What's NewHome Page