Washington: It is China which provided
Pakistan with the blueprint to build a nuclear weapon, in
early 1980s, a small, reliable armament that could be
delivered on India by attack aircraft or missile, according to
a new book.
The blueprint was delivered as the desperate Pakistani
nuclear scientists led by AQ Khan were unable to build the
weapon they wanted, said the book by David Albright, a former
UN weapons inspector.
"The best it (Pakistan) could hope for was a bomb
weighing a few thousand pounds, akin to what the United States
detonated over Japan. Once again, Pakistan would rely on the
technological advances of another country for help, but this
time it would use diplomacy instead if espionage," says the
The book "Peddling Peril: The Secret Nuclear Trade
Arms America's Enemies" that hit the stands today gives an
in-depth account of how the maligned AQ Khan network through
espionage and stealing build the nuclear plant and finally
weapon for Pakistan, the secret technology of which was later
passed to several rouge States.
Albright, founder and president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, in his book offers an uneven expose on the "illicit trade in nuclear technology" and the threats it poses to
According to the documents assessed by Albright and
referred in the book, the United States came to know about the
secret China-Pak ties on the nuclear technology; but the then
Carter Administration opted to ignore it as it apparently did
not wanted this to affect its ties with Pakistan in the
aftermath of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
This despite the fact that there were mounting stack
of circumstantial evidence of their collusion.
"For Pakistan and AQ Khan, cooperating with China
quickly provided to be a boon. The Chinese provided Pakistan
with blue prints for building a nuclear weapon, most likely
the Chic-4, first tested as a missile warhead in 1966 and
detonated above ground, with an explosive force of twelve
kilotons, equivalent to 12,000 tons of TNT.
"They also provided 50 kilogrammes of weapon-grade
uranium," Albright writes in his book.
"Pakistan now had the blueprint of a proven weapon. In
1981, AQ Khan sent his procurement agents detailed drawings
of weapons component with orders to buy them from European
companies," the book says.
Noting that China's deal with Pakistan was dramatic
there was little consensus among US government officials over
what ultimate agenda it served, the book says China provided
Pakistan with nuclear assistance to bolster its security.
"As a bonus, China's nuclear scientist would have
access to the advances centrifuge technology Khan stole from
Europe, technology that might contribute to its own nuclear
According to a former US official, Chinese
representatives were at Kahuta "all the time" during the early
1980s, both helping Pakistan and receiving information and
assistance on building European centrifuges," it says.
In return, between 1981 and 1984, Pakistanis attended
a series of lectures in Beijing from prominent Chinese experts
in nuclear weapons and took, detailed, dated, handwritten
notes in English.
"Drawings obtained from China or produced by Pakistani
experts from the notes represent the components of this weapon
design with their exact specifications.
"The level of technical precision and detail in the
notes and drawings would have allowed Pakistan to manufacture
the components with a high confidence that they would work,"
Albright said these notes go far beyond anything
available through open source material or on the Internet.
"One US nuclear weapons expert said this information
would be considered classified in the United States," he said.
According to the book, soon after the Chinese started
giving bomb design to Pakistan, that information was picked up
by British intelligence.
"In an intelligence coup, British spies stole the
Pakistani blue print for the newly acquired bomb design in
1981 from one of Khan's operatives in Europe and quickly
informed the Americans," he said.
He said,: "Researchers (American) were flabbergasted
by how much technological know-how had fallen into Pakistani
hands, but by then Khan’s plan was in motion.
"By 1983, Pakistan had enough weapon-grade uranium to
make a nuclear explosion."
Khan's procurement efforts, Albright, said were a
remarkable accomplishment in an industrially backward country,
producing highly enriched uranium for a deliverable nuclear
weapon in less than a decade.
The glue for Khan's network was huge sums of easy
money and little chance of getting caught by the authorities,
as the Pakistani government typically refused to cooperate
with prosecutors abroad.
First Published: Tuesday, March 16, 2010, 18:32