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Context of '(April 1978): Civilian Committee Overseeing Pakistan Nuclear Facility Disbanded, Replaced by General'

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Pakistani military dictator Muhammad Zia ul-Haq disbands the civilian committee that oversees operations at Kahuta Research Laboratories (KRL), a facility working on producing a nuclear weapon for Pakistan. The committee had been put in place by Zia’s predecessor, civilian ruler Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, to keep the military away from the project, but the deposed Bhutto has recently been sentenced to death. The committee’s role is taken over by Army Chief of Staff General Khalid Mahmud Arif. Zia tells Arif that KRL’s uranium enrichment program needs to be successful not only for Pakistan, but for all Muslim countries. Arif and KRL chief A. Q. Khan already know each other, having worked together on the construction of Kahuta. [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 52-53]

Entity Tags: Khalid Mahmud Arif, Muhammad Zia ul-Haq

Timeline Tags: A. Q. Khan's Nuclear Network

On a trip to New York, Pakistani dictator Muhammad Zia ul-Haq meets with former US President Richard Nixon. The meeting is to discuss the Soviet-Afghan War, but Pakistan’s nuclear program also comes up. General Khalid Mahmud Arif, who accompanies Zia, will later say that Nixon makes it clear he is in favor of Pakistan gaining nuclear weapons capability. Nixon does not say that he is acting for Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan, but, according to authors Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clarke, “his comments signal […] the way ahead,” as the future Reagan administration will enable Pakistan to continue work on its nuclear weapons program without being sanctioned. [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 76]

Entity Tags: Khalid Mahmud Arif, Reagan administration, Richard M. Nixon, Muhammad Zia ul-Haq

Timeline Tags: A. Q. Khan's Nuclear Network

A delegation from Pakistan’s foreign ministry holds its first talks about possibly selling the nuclear technology and know-how it has acquired with representatives of the Iranian, Syrian, and Libyan governments. The talks, ostensibly about the wider topic of strategic co-operation, follow on from a conscious decision by Pakistani leaders to sell what they have (see (Early 1985)).
No Qualms - Although it is possible the US would be angry if it finds out, and could cut off significant aid to Pakistan, according to authors Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark, “no one at Army House in Rawalpindi perceived it as immoral or considered the risk too large to take.” General Khalid Mahmud Arif will say: “Having seen the US so flexible in the past, everyone doubted that it would sanction us at all. Also, few of us held the NPT [Nuclear Proliferation Treaty] in high regard. We referred to it as a monopoly, to service the West’s interests. There were so many countries that had been allowed to arm and proliferate—Israel, South Africa, Argentina—countries that slotted into the US’s foreign policy requirements and were allowed to do as they please.”
Shia Iran Not a Problem - Although the Pakistanis want to sell the bomb to other Muslim countries, Pakistani leader General Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, a hardline Sunni, is wary of sharing it with Shia Iran. However, according to Levy and Scott-Clark, because Iran is currently at war with Iraq and threatened by Soviet troops in Afghanistan, it is not perceived as such a threat at this time: “The Shias were a contained and localized minority, the underdogs to the US-backed Sunni elite of Islamabad, Amman, Cairo, and Riyadh. No one contemplated a time when that Sunni strength and wealth would be threatened by war in Iraq and a Shi’ite awakening with its epicentre in Iran.” Nevertheless, Pakistan will not sell completed nuclear weapons to Iran, only technology for enriching uranium. [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 133-134]

Entity Tags: Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, Khalid Mahmud Arif

Timeline Tags: US International Relations, A. Q. Khan's Nuclear Network

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