13. Minutes of a Policy Review Committee Meeting1


  • PRC on Pakistan and Subcontinent Matters—Minutes


  • State

    • Warren Christopher, Deputy Secretary
    • Amb. Gerard Smith, Special Representative of the President for Non-Proliferation Matters
    • David Newsom, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
  • Defense

    • Charles Duncan, Dep. Secretary
    • Robert Murray, Dep. Ass’t. Secretary for Near Eastern, African, & South Asian Affairs
  • Energy

    • Amb. Holsey Handyside, Dep. Ass’t. Secretary for Internat. Programs
  • OMB

    • Randy Jayne, Assoc. Direc. for Security & Internat. Affairs
  • AID

    • Robert Nooter, Acting Administrator
    • Jack Sullivan, Ass’t. Administrator for Asia Bureau
  • ACDA

    • Spurgeon Keeny, Dep. Director
    • Charles Van Doren, Ass’t. Director, Non-Proliferation Bureau
  • JCS

    • Lt. Gen. William Smith
  • DCI

    • Admiral Stansfield Turner, Director
    • John Despres

Christopher: The Pakistanis are fairly down the nuclear road and it seems unlikely that the Indians are going to cooperate in a regional nuclear arrangement. We however are looking for a regional non-use/non-development pledge which could then be expanded to include safeguards and then we would hope to end the Pakistani nuclear program. Thus far it has been discouraging. India is the key to the nuclear free zone concept but they will not cooperate unless China is fully involved. We should see now whether there is agreement on where we should go for the next month or so.

Duncan: I agree that we need to deal with both of the two countries and get them to renounce a nuclear capability. Therefore we should [Page 41] be very careful what we do for the Pakistanis in a military way. We should certainly pursue any possibility of Indian flexibility.

Christopher: I am not sure that India fully recognizes how great their role is in stimulating Pakistani fears. I think Bob Goheen should try and bring this home to Prime Minister Desai.

Aaron: It seems to me that we are following what is left of a policy that Zia turned down several weeks ago.2 A piece of that was an arrangement between India and Pakistan. Maybe we should now look to see if there are any broad incentives which we could bring to bear on Pakistan. If there are none, that leads us to some important conclusions. Should we not consider first whether Goheen should pursue the conversation with Desai or whether Gerry Smith might also go along? Second, in the long run is the US the right country to work this out? We carry a lot of baggage in South Asia. Perhaps we could find a European or Mexican to do the job.

Christopher: The UK comes to mind but they have already been turned down by Desai. We thought perhaps to get Desai and Zia together at the Non-Aligned Meeting in Havana, assuming that Zia will not be at the Commonwealth Meeting.3 Goheen can make the first probe and perhaps Smith or somebody else could join in.

Newsom: I suggest that some individual, perhaps non-American, should go to India, Pakistan, and also to China. We and the British could lay the groundwork. We would convince the parties that their actions constitute a threat and that they should accept such a third party involvement.

Christopher: Yet no country seems in a better position than the United States to bring influence to bear. The Carter-Desai relationship is of great value although it of course also involves its costs.

Newsom: This is a complex task that will require the full time engagement of the person or team. Perhaps it should be mounted by the IAEA or just by an outstanding individual such as Ellsworth Bunker.

Keeny: I generally agree, especially that Gerry Smith be included when Goheen meets with Desai. We shouldn’t develop that until we find the proper person.

Gerard Smith: I think that the China angle needs more exploration than we have done so far. Also the problem needs more ventilation. Other countries are just not taking it seriously. At the least we want to build a case so that when the NPT Review Conference takes place and we hear arguments about the need for a full flow of technology, [Page 42] we can point to the Pakistani case. Also I think we should go to Congress to get the law amended so that we can fulfill our contract and continue to supply fuel to Tarapur. Feeling about non-proliferation is not that pervasive in Congress and we should be able to get an Amendment. We need finally to have a joint intensive examination of this problem on an international basis (setting up an international group).

Christopher: The State Department thinks that an international group would have too much visibility and would give Pakistan a handle for claiming that we were exerting undue pressure. On the basis of his talks in London Secretary Vance has said that he wants this idea put in limbo.4 I think we could pursue much the same thing around the edges of the IAEA next month. I will get Vance’s approval on that. It is then agreed that we should ask Goheen to pursue this matter with Desai—the idea of a non-use/non-development pledge including perhaps China. Then we should test the idea out on the Chinese.

William Smith: We should also however put as much pressure on India as we are on Pakistan. The way we are acting, when a country gets a nuclear capability we just give up on it. We should also bear in mind that we have previous commitments to Pakistan and we should live up to them.

Keeny: We would certainly have to have something from India in order to get the legislation amended to permit Tarapur supply—support for our regional idea.

Gerard Smith: Pressure did not work on Pakistan and it is not going to work on India either. What we need is a new approach.

Duncan: A change on Tarapur supply and military sales to Pakistan would have to be conditional on an Indo-Pakistani agreement.

Gerard Smith: All through Europe and elsewhere we have lost tremendously because we are seen as welshers on commitments that we have made.

Christopher: I would certainly distinguish between Pakistani and Indian cases. There is certainly no indication that military supply will buy off Pakistan.

Newsom: Is there really anything that we can do to deter Pakistan before it explodes a nuclear device?

Christopher: Well, perhaps getting an Indian non-nuclear pledge is worth a try.

[Page 43]

Turner: I would draw attention to the weakness of General Zia. It is unlikely that he will give in on a prestige issue like this. You saw the report this morning that Pakistan plans to set off a nuclear explosion before November.5 We are skeptical about this but we cannot discount it entirely.

Christopher: The Pakistani experience shows the weaknesses of our procedures in controlling nuclear technology. A group that works on the edges of the IAEA could consider that broad question. Also is not Pakistan more dangerous than India since it has more of an incentive to share its explosive technology?

Despres: There has been a lot of talk about an Islamic bomb6 and we know that Pakistan has a great material interest in sharing its technology. There is no substantial evidence however that they are doing so.

Christopher: Let us move on now to US-Pakistani military sales policy. We told Agha-Shahi that we expected an adverse reaction from Congress on military supply but that we would explore it. Pakistan says that they want to give us a modest list. Our consultations with Congress were in fact quite negative and if we get such a list from Pakistan the most we can do is review it. The two main items that we have to decide today are the Gearing Class Destroyers7 and an Inertial Navigation System for the Mirages that France is going to supply.8 Should we proceed with the Gearings? The Pakistanis have not pressed us; it is we who are anxious to reach a decision. I think that we should hold the Gearings in abeyance rather than send the wrong signal by pushing the Pakistanis to take them.

Christopher: I agree. We have to think in longer terms of dealing with Pakistan and India and may want to provide incentives quickly at some later stage.

Jayne: Can’t we rearrange the sequence of destroyer sales to various countries so as to keep the Pakistani request in abeyance?

William Smith: The JCS believes that we have made a commitment to Pakistan on this and we should follow through.

Newsom: These destroyers were part of a package that we had offered before the Symington Amendment came into effect. We have offered them again and the Pakistanis have not responded.

Duncan: Why push them then? The only real pressure is from the US Navy. Let’s keep them in reserve for use later.

[Page 44]

Newsom: The Pakistanis are in fact probably waiting for a firmer offer from us. They do not want to be turned down.

Aaron: I am concerned that later we are going to have to deal solely with the Pakistanis. I don’t think it is wise to get the Chinese directly involved aside, perhaps, from urging the Pakistanis not to go nuclear.

Gerard Smith: The Chinese did sign the Tlatelolco protocol.

Christopher: Let us now take up Inertial Navigation System. We have furnished similar systems for the Pakistanis but we turned down the sale of it to the Indians for use on their Jaguars.9 Should we now again turn it down for the Pakistanis? I do not think we should.

Duncan: Well how would that be consistent with what we have done with the Indians? Why not keep this in reserve also?

Aaron: How would we explain to the Indians if we turned them down and sell it to the Pakistanis?

Christopher: I would explain it to them in terms of the different type of aircraft involved.

Newsom: I would also point out that we have a tacit agreement with the French not to oppose any Mirage sales to Pakistan. Of course this would not stop the Pakistanis from buying the plane; it would just make them a less valuable weapons system.

Christopher: Is there no comparable system from some other source?

William Smith: No system that would be quite as good.

Duncan: We should think of systems for both Pakistan and India as part of our overall package of incentives.

William Smith: I think we should move now. We should not alienate Pakistan any more than we have already. They must certainly expect these navigation systems.

Christopher: It is not really clear what the capabilities of the various kinds of available systems are. I think we should have a paper on this and JCS should work together with the State Department in preparing one. This will also give us a bit more time to work this into our strategy.

Let us now take up the question of the PL–480.

Nooter: We will be expected to speak to the PL–480 issue at the Consortium meeting in early June.10 We have pledged $80 million worth of wheat, of which we have provided $40. The Pakistanis do not need the other $40 this year and the question is whether we should provide them something more than the $40 that they have already. Also, we do not have any money to pay for more. It is possible that [Page 45] we could find $25 million dollars worth of vegetable oil from the Zaire and Portugal accounts if we wanted to supply this for political reasons. We have to decide though how the PL–480 fits into our overall tactics. I have been talking about FY 1979 so far—what should we say about PL–480 at the Consortium for 1980? There is $40 million in the Congressional presentation with a possibility of an agreement of as much as $180 million in Title III support over the next three years. Should we raise the Title III possibility at Paris?

Jayne: We told the Pakistanis that the second $40 million for FY 1979 was conditioned on performance. According to the Agriculture Department there are real problems with their level of performance. If we were to offer an additional $40 million in PL–480 to them at this point it might look to the Congress like we are trying to make up for the $40 million worth of development assistance that we had to cut.

Christopher: Are we committed for $80 million?

Jayne: No; the second $40 million was conditional.

Sullivan: We did at the pledging session say we expected to provide $80 million. We also should bear in mind that part of the delay on terms for the Title III agreement is the result of our own inability to get our act together on that.

Nooter: The political factor is determining here; you can really do whatever you want.

Christopher: If they go forward with the nuclear option, Congress will certainly cut off PL–480 as well as development assistance.

I think that we should go forward with what we have committed and we have no obligation to do more.

Nooter: At the Paris meeting we can say that we are reconsidering the situation in light of the nuclear situation.

Aaron: The real question is what signal we want to give to the Pakistanis?

Newsom: Should we say that we are responding to pressures from Congress?

Christopher: I think that we are going to lose the whole PL–480 in FY 1980. We should tell Congress that we are keeping our commitment but that we are phasing the program out until the Pakistanis mend their ways.

Newsom: The question is whether we want to maintain bilateral relations with Pakistan even if there is no nuclear agreement. There is really little chance that they will not set off the device. Do we want to disassociate ourselves completely from them or try to keep up a normal presence?

Christopher: Henry Owen and others have come under very heavy fire from Congress. It would be hard to explain to them doing anything to which we were not already committed.

[Page 46]

Gerard Smith: Can we not make an argument on humanitarian grounds?

Jayne: We are pressuring all sorts of needy countries all over the world on Title III criteria. Congress appreciates this and we shouldn’t look like we are making Title III into a political incentive in Pakistan. It would be better to use Title I for that.

Christopher: We could also make all of this part of the package that we could use in supporting a possible agreement, together with the Inertial Navigation System and the Gearings.

Sullivan: How direct a linkage should we make to the nuclear question at the Paris meeting? If we do not say anything at Paris the Pakistanis will take it as a signal. We need decisions first on supplying vegetable oil in FY 1979, second on a Title III negotiation instruction that we are preparing now, and third on what we should say at the Consortium meeting on June 5.

Christopher: Supplying the vegetable oil would really be straining the situation. I think we should be silent. As far as the Title III agreement goes, we should not send out any instructions but keep it under review.

William Smith: At the last PRC meeting we spent our time figuring out how to woo the Pakistanis.11 Now we are trying to figure out how to punish them and are showing pique.

Turner: [3 lines not declassified]

Christopher: Will any of these items help us in that regard?

Turner: Something is always better than nothing.

Aaron: But what is our strategy? Do we agree that the old two track strategy is bankrupt? Do we really have any leverage?

Christopher: We found that they did not want to be wooed along the lines of our two track strategy.

Gerard Smith: Remember we are not only dealing with the perceptions of Pakistan but the perceptions of other countries. We need to show determination about non-proliferation. Certainly if we are going to discuss these matters at the Summit12 it will help if we can show that we have taken some painful decisions.

Newsom: I think we should separate the PL–480 and the arms supply issues and keep the former on developmental terms.

Nooter: If the Pakistanis can assume continuation of PL–480 you’ve lost an important bargaining chip.

[Page 47]

Christopher: We will still remain open on the two track policy; if the Pakistanis want to resume that discussion with us about the 1959 agreement we would be prepared to. We are now dealing with two issues: the first is our strategy on the nuclear option and the second is how we deal with minor bilateral issues. We are agreed on everything except PL–480. We do not want to make an extra effort in FY 1979. In regard to FY 1980 I think we should stay with the present situation but point out that our ability to help Pakistan in this regard would depend first on its observance of the conditions of the aid and secondly Congressional attitudes.

Christopher: There are some other items on the agenda. It is clear that debt rescheduling is impossible at this time. We do not need to get into the question of Indian nuclear supply; we can keep that for later. I do wish though that the NRC would make a decision.

Mathews: The last I heard was that we would get a 3 to 2 vote in favor of supply of the current shipment.

Christopher: The Soviets also, I am told, do not want to have the South Asian nuclear question on the Summit agenda.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Thornton Subject File, Box 102, PRC: Pakistan 5/23/79: 5/79. Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room.
  2. See Document 341.
  3. The Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement took place in Havana September 3–9. The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting took place in Lusaka August 1–7.
  4. Vance visited London May 20–24 for talks with British officials. Documentation is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XXVII, Western Europe.
  5. See footnote 2, Document 345.
  6. See Document 345 and footnote 5, Document 348.
  7. See Document 340.
  8. See Document 285.
  9. See Document 141.
  10. The World Bank’s Aid to Pakistan Consortium of international donors met in Paris June 5–6.
  11. See Document 333.
  12. Carter and Brezhnev met in Vienna June 16–18. They signed the SALT II Treaty and issued a joint declaration on regularizing U.S.-Soviet consultations. See Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. VI, Soviet Union, Documents 199208.