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Context of 'After June 2, 1981: US Misrepresents Its Knowledge of Pakistan’s Nuclear Program in Cable to Israel'

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The US State Department includes Iraq in its list of states that sponsor terrorism. [Phythian, 1997]

Entity Tags: US Department of State

Timeline Tags: US-Iraq 1980s

In response to information it has received about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program (see June 2, 1981), Israel begins planning a pre-emptive strike against one of Pakistan’s main nuclear facilities. The complex to be targeted is in Kahuta, near Islamabad, and houses Pakistan’s uranium enrichment centrifuges. However, the plan is not implemented due to US pressure, applied due to friendly US relations with Pakistan and Pakistani co-operation on anti-Soviet efforts in Afghanistan. [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 86]

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

Israel’s permanent representative to the UN, Yehuda Blum, tells the UN General Assembly that “there is abundant evidence indicating that [Pakistan] is producing nuclear weapons.” He adds that “at the Engineering Research Labs… Pakistan is secretly constructing a plant for the production of weapons-grade enriched uranium by centrifuges” based on a technology “stolen from the URENCO plant in the Netherlands.” He also says that Pakistan has established front companies in 14 countries to acquire components, and that Pakistan is close to building a cascade of at least 1,000 centrifuges. In addition, the Pakistanis intend to build more than 10,000 of them, “which in turn could produce about 150 kg of enriched uranium a year, sufficient for seven nuclear explosive devices every year.” Authors Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark will write that this information is “what the US had known for several years but had chosen not to share with the rest of the world.” [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 85-86]

Entity Tags: Adrian Levy, Yehuda Blum, Catherine Scott-Clark, United Nations

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

The US State Department writes a cable to Israel to allay Israeli fears about Pakistan’s nuclear program (see June 2, 1981). However, the communication contains information the US must know to be untrue. The cable says, “We believe that the Pakistanis have so far been unable to make their centrifuge machines work and that they have not yet produced any significant quantities of enriched uranium.” Authors Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark will say this is a “blatant lie,” as the US knows the opposite is true. The cable concludes, “Even if the Pakistanis do manage to eventually overcome their problems in the enrichment area, it would likely take them a few years of successful operations to produce sufficient fissile material to fabricate a single device.” It also estimates that it will take Pakistan another decade before it has a suitable missile system to go with warheads. Levy and Scott-Clark will add, “Not only was the US misrepresenting the available intelligence, but it was also ignoring several articles published by Khan himself in Western nuclear gazettes in which he had explicitly laid out the hurdles his centrifuge construction program had overcome.” Moshe Ya’alon, later head of Israeli military intelligence, will say that the Israelis are stunned by this response. “The US was glib on Pakistan,” he will add. [Levy and Scott-Clark, 2007, pp. 85-86]

Entity Tags: Adrian Levy, US Department of State, Moshe Ya’alon, Catherine Scott-Clark

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

A US State Department report concludes that Iraq continues to support groups on the State Department’s terrorist list. [Jentleson, 1994, pp. 52]

Entity Tags: US Department of State

Timeline Tags: US-Iraq 1980s

Richard Barlow, a CIA analyst of Pakistan’s nuclear program (see 1985-1988), realizes that officials in the State Department are refusing to share information with the CIA, the Commerce Department, and US Customs about the Pakistani program. In particular, the State Department is aware of the identities of key Pakistani agents who are illicitly purchasing nuclear weapons technology in the US, but it does not pass their names on to the CIA and the other two agencies. By withholding this information, the State Department is able to neutralize the other agencies’ counter-proliferation attempts. State Department officials also approve questionable export licenses for Pakistan (see 1986). [Guardian, 10/13/2007]

Entity Tags: US Department of State, Central Intelligence Agency, Office of Scientific and Weapons Research (CIA), Richard Barlow, Pakistan

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

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