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Declassified documents reveal US failure to stop Pak's nuke programme

By Nairita Das

Washington/Islamabad, Dec. 24 (ANI): Recently declassified U.S. Government documents from the Jimmy Carter era reveal how Washington made persistent attempts to roll back Pakistan's nuclear programme, despite resistance from then Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and former dictator Zia-ul-Haq.

According to The Nation, America's policy makers were both anxious and concerned about Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme in the late 1970s, especially after they discovered that metallurgist A Q Khan had blueprints for a gas centrifuge uranium enrichment facility.

The Carter administration and its predecessor, the (Gerald) Ford administration, made every attempt to discourage Islamabad from going ahead with its nuclear programme, but Pakistan was found to have moved too quickly to build a gas centrifuge plant, thanks to "dual use" technology acquired by Khan and his network.

The documents further disclose the U.S. government's complex but unsuccessful efforts to convince Pakistan to turn off the gas centrifuge project.

Besides exerting direct pressure first on Bhutto and then on Zia, Washington lobbied key allies and China to induce them to pressurize Islamabad, but also to cooperate by halting the sale of sensitive technology to Pakistan.

The publication of declassified documents comes at a time when WikiLeaks cables reveal the tensions between the US and Pakistan on key nuclear issues, including the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons arsenal and the disposal of a stockpile of weapons-grade, highly-enriched uranium.

Senior US officials concluded that prospects were "poor" for stopping the Pakistani nuclear programme, within months arms controller were "scratching their heads" over how to tackle the problem. (ANI)

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