Sunday, June 03, 2007

US let Pakistan go nuclear: ex-CIA official

Dawn (in Pakistan, in full):
"US let Pakistan go nuclear: ex-CIA official

WASHINGTON, May 3: The Reagan administration allowed Pakistan to continue its nuclear programme because it needed Islamabad’s support to fight the Russians in Afghanistan, says a former CIA official.

Richard Barlow was an analyst for the CIA, monitoring Pakistan’s nuclear programme during the Reagan era. In 1989, he moved over to the Pentagon, where he worked for then Secretary of Defence Richard Cheney.

In an interview to a Washington news site, Raw Story, Mr Barlow claims that he lost the job when he raised objections to his bosses about senior Pentagon officials allegedly lying to Congress concerning Pakistan’s emerging nuclear programme.

When Mr Barlow joined the CIA in 1985 as a counter-proliferation intelligence officer with particular expertise on Pakistan, he soon learned that US officials were aware of Pakistan’s efforts to establish a weapon-cable nuclear programme but chose to ignore them.

According to Mr Barlow, individuals at the State Department later actively facilitated procurement, tipping off targets of sealed arrest warrants in undercover operations and illegally approving export licenses for restricted goods.

In 1985 — following the arrest of a Pakistani agent in the US who attempted to procure specialised switches for nuclear detonators — Congress took steps to prevent Pakistan from developing nuclear weapons, passing bills that would cut off economic and military aid to Pakistan if it were found to be involved in nuclear activities.

“However, President Reagan wanted military and economic aid to continue flowing to Pakistan to ensure its ongoing support of his covert war against the Russians in Afghanistan,” Mr Barlow says.

In 1987, Mr Barlow engineered the arrest of some of Pakistanis in the US as part of an undercover operation. He says the arrests came with the full support and knowledge of the highest levels of the CIA and the Reagan administration.

The arrests sparked a firestorm. Proof of Pakistan’s proliferation activities would trigger the provisions of the so-called Solarz Amendment and put an end to Pakistani aid.

The amendment’s author, Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs Chairman Rep. Stephen Solarz (D-NY), called for a top-secret briefing by the CIA. Mr Barlow was sent to represent the agency.

Under orders from the CIA, he told the subcommittee that there were “scores” of illegal transactions that should have triggered the Solarz Amendment. He also claimed that the Pakistanis involved — including a retired general — were agents of the government of Pakistan.

While Mr Solarz and others in Congress favoured Mr Barlow, he claims that some senior officials of the Reagan administration tried to undercut his testimony. US officials running the covert Afghan war — the Directorate of Operations, the former National Intelligence Officer for Proliferation who had been responsible for briefing Congress and the State Department’s regional office — were particularly upset and tried to get him fired for engineering the arrests and spilling the beans, he says.

A US court, however, convicted the Pakistani nationals arrested for assisting their country’s nuclear programme and President Reagan triggered the Solarz Amendment for the first and only time.

Immediately afterward, President Reagan invoked a national security waiver provision in the law, nullifying the amendment.

Mr Barlow left the CIA and in early 1989, after George H. W. Bush became president, he joined the Pentagon’s Office of Non-Proliferation Policy."


Anonymous said...

I'd like to read the books by Ayesha Siddiqa,these books might elaborate and allow those following these events to connect some dots. Unfortunately,her books appear to be undistributed here in the U.S.

«—U®Anu§—» said...

And George W. Bush provided Pakistan with cruise missiles and technical support. I contend they were all fully aware that Pakistan's government might destabilize (duh). Spreading war and weapons helps the U.S. sell more weapons. After all, to their thinking, anything is okay, just so long as it makes money.

Anonymous said...

Maybe not directly related to this story but has anybody here ever linked some of the things Sibel Edmonds said and the Brewster Jennings/Plame case to the defective nuclear parts that were allegedly sold to Iran via the nuclear black market? Who controls that market? Who are the active players? Could one arm of a compartmentalized organization stumble upon the covert activities of another?

lukery said...

anon - good question. no, we haven't really tied that together.