China and Pakistan's Nuclear Nexus
While an assortment of non-proliferation hardliners and hi-tech suppliers treat India with immense suspicion in the matter of nuclear trade predicated on tests, it turns out that the United States and the west were fully aware of Chinese nuclear weapons proliferation to Pakistan, including conducting a proxy test for it, as far back as 1990.In some of the most startling revelations to emerge on the subject, a high-ranking ex-US official who was also a nuclear weapons designer, disclosed that “in 1982, China’s premier Deng Xiaoping began the transfer of nuclear arms technology to Pakistan.” Thomas Reed, described as a former US “nuclear weaponeer” and a secretary of the air force (during 1976-77) writes in the latest issue of Physics Today that China’s transfers to Pakistan included blueprints for the ultrasimple CHIC-4 design using highly enriched uranium, first tested in 1966. A Pakistani derivative of CHIC-4 apparently was tested in China on 26 May 1990, he adds. Reed makes an even more stunning disclosure, saying Deng not only authorized proliferation to Pakistan, but also, “in time, to other third-world countries.” The countries are not named. He also says that during the 1990s, China conducted underground hydronuclear experiments—though not full-scale device tests—for France at Lop Nur.Reed’s disclosures are based on his knowledge of and insights into the visits to China by Dan Stillman, a top US nuclear expert who went there several times in the late 1980s at Beijing’s invitation, in part because the Chinese wanted to both show off and convey to the US the progress they had made in nuclear weaponisation.One of Stillman’s visits to the Shanghai Institute of Nuclear Research (SINR), writes Reed, “also produced his first insight into the hospitality extended to Pakistani nuclear scientists during that same late-1980s time period,” which would eventually lead to the joint China-Pakistan nuclear test. Chinese nuclear proliferation to Pakistan, including the supply of hi-tech items like ring magnets in the early 1990s, has always been known to the non-proliferation community (which largely slept on the reports). But this is the first time it has been confirmed by such a senior official. In the late 1980s, both the Reagan and the George Bush Sr administration repeatedly fudged the issue to certify that Pakistan had not gone nuclear despite obvious evidence to the contrary.