Commentary Type

Case 79-2


US v. Pakistan (1979– : Nuclear Missile Proliferation).
See also Case 99-3 US, Japan v. Pakistan (1999–2001: Coup, restore democracy)


Chronology of Key Events

March 18, 1976

Pakistan signs agreement with France for purchase of nuclear fuel reprocessing plant. (Tahir-Kheli 90)

August 1976

US Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger tries to convince Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to withdraw from reprocessing agreement. He offers to sell Pakistan 100 A-7 jet fighters (sale is later rejected by President Jimmy Carter) in return for canceling deal, warns Bhutto to negotiate with "understanding Republican administration" rather than wait for Carter, who will "make a horrible example of you." Meanwhile, administration of President Gerald R. Ford quietly urges France to cancel fuel reprocessing agreement. (Tahir-Kheli 124, 126)


Under leadership of Senators Stuart Symington (D-MO) and John H. Glenn (D-OH), Congress amends Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2429) to require suspension of economic, military assistance to countries that either buy or sell facilities for enrichment or reprocessing facilities that are not signatories of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or have not accepted full-scope safeguards. (See Legal Notes.)

July 5, 1977

General Mohammed Zia ul-Haq deposes Bhutto. (Tahir-Kheli 93)


France delays transferring blueprints to Pakistan, raises price, pressures Pakistan to shift from reprocessing to coprocessing technology. Pakistan, however, refuses to cancel or modify agreement. (Tahir-Kheli 128-29)

August 24, 1978

After France refuses to go through with reprocessing plant sale as originally negotiated, Pakistan pronounces it officially dead. (Tahir-Kheli 130)

Early 1979

Evidence of Pakistani construction of enrichment plant, detected by European intelligence sources in late 1978, is confirmed by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). (Evidence includes identification of Pakistani spy who obtained lists of enrichment plant components from UK, Netherlands, West Germany.) US suggests International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards as alternative to sanctions under Symington amendment, but Pakistan refuses to acknowledge existence of plant. On 6 April 1979, US discontinues all military, economic aid, totaling $80 million to $85 million. US reaches understanding with France not to ship reprocessing plant to Pakistan; US blocks Pakistan's attempts to buy components of reprocessing or enrichment plants elsewhere. (New York Times, 7 April 1979, A1; Spector interview; Spector 1988, 122-26)

April 17, 1979

Changing tactics in hopes of avoiding Pakistan-India nuclear arms race, President Carter offers fighter planes, nuclear power development assistance if Pakistan will restrict nuclear weapons program, open nuclear facilities to international safeguards. (New York Times, 17 April 1979, A3)

January 1980

After Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Carter offers to resume aid at level of $400 million, divided evenly between economic, military. Pakistan rejects offer as inadequate. (New York Times, 14 January 1980, A1)

June 15, 1981

US State Department, under new administration of President Ronald Reagan, announces agreement on $3.2 billion aid package over six years at $400 million per year for military purchases (including at least 15 F-16s), $100 million per year in economic aid. (New York Times, 16 June 1981, A1)

September 15, 1981

Pakistan formally accepts aid package after adjustment to provide equal amounts of economic, military aid within same total; F-16 sale increased to 40 planes. (New York Times, 16 September 1981, A1)

December 1981

Congress approves 1982 foreign assistance authorization that includes aid to Pakistan, along with six-year waiver of Symington amendment sanctions. However, Congress strengthens portion of nuclear nonproliferation law banning economic, military assistance to countries that explode nuclear devices. (New York Times, 15 December 1981, A29; Smith and Cobban 58; Spector 1988, 125)

January 1983

IAEA official reports that "Pakistan is building, or has completed, another nuclear plant, not under IAEA inspection, theoretically capable of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel into weapons-grade plutonium." Agreement is reached, however, to increase IAEA surveillance over existing power station. (Financial Times, 13 January 1983, 4)

July 16, 1984

Federal grand jury indicts three "Pakistani nationals for trying to ship parts for nuclear weapons to Pakistan. ..." Officials in Pakistan deny accused smugglers are employed by Pakistani government, reiterate commitment to peaceful uses of nuclear energy. (Washington Post, 17 July 1984, A3; New York Times, 16 July 1984, A1)

September 12, 1984

President Reagan sends personal letter to Zia warning him that US-Pakistani security assistance relationship is endangered by apparent nuclear-weapons development program. He also informs Zia that enrichment of uranium above 5 percent, which would be weapons grade, will not be acceptable, requests assurances that such capability is not being pursued. Similar assurances are obtained in each of next four years. Senator Alan Cranston (D-CA) and unnamed Arms Control and Disarmament Agency officials press administration for stronger action. (Wall Street Journal, 25 October 1984, 37)

July 1985

Congress approves another installment of six-year Pakistani aid package but adds a provision, the "Pressler amendment" (named for Senator Larry Pressler [R-SD]) requiring president to certify annually that Pakistan does not "possess a nuclear explosive device" before additional aid can be disbursed. Responding to smuggling attempt of previous summer, Congress also adds provision "prohibiting aid to any non-nuclear-state found to have smuggled items from the United States for use in a nuclear explosive device." (Spector 1988, 128)

Fall 1986

US intelligence reports conclude that Pakistan has enriched uranium to weapons-grade levels; nonproliferation experts assert that Pakistan is anywhere from two weeks to "'two screwdriver turns' from having a fully assembled bomb." Pakistan reiterates denials that it is seeking to develop nuclear device. Reagan certifies to Congress that Pakistan "does not possess a nuclear explosive device," thus enabling passage of another $4 billion, six-year aid package. (Washington Post, 4 November 1986, A1; 5 November 1986)

Summer 1987

Congress considers cutting off aid after Pakistani government issues arrest warrant for former military officer accused of involvement in scheme to illegally import a high-grade alloy steel from US for use in enrichment facilities. While conceding that its citizens may have been involved, Pakistan claims it was "rogue operation" without government support or approval. (Washington Post, 22 July 1987, A1)

December 1987

Congress approves another $480 million aid package for Pakistan, extends waiver of Symington amendment for another two and a half years. Administration also waives restriction prohibiting aid to countries engaged in nuclear smuggling. (Smith 58; Spector 1988, 142)

August-Fall 1988

Zia is killed in a plane crash. Opposition party wins in elections held shortly thereafter; Benazir Bhutto becomes prime minister.

November 18, 1988

Reagan belatedly certifies that Pakistan does not possess nuclear weapons, but warns that its nuclear program has reached stage where another certification "may be difficult or impossible to make with any degree of certainty." (Washington Post, 15 June 1989, A38)

June 1989

During visit by Bhutto to Washington, President George Bush does not demand assurances that Pakistan is not enriching uranium beyond 5 percent. In speech to joint session of Congress, Bhutto promises that Pakistan will not produce "'weapons-grade uranium' ... or take final step to assemble a nuclear device." (Washington Post, 15 June 1989, A38)

October 1989

In carefully hedged letter to Congress, Bush certifies that Pakistan does not "now possess a nuclear explosive device" but that "Pakistan has continued its efforts to develop its unsafeguarded nuclear program." He emphasizes that finding is narrow one that does not address whether Pakistan "is attempting to develop or has developed various relevant capabilities." (Washington Post, 12 October 1989, A17; New York Times, 12 October 1989, A1)

February 21, 1990

French President François Mitterrand announces in Islamabad that he has approved sale to Pakistan of nuclear power plant. He also says Pakistan is entitled to compensation for reprocessing plant deal that fell through in 1978. Bhutto still refuses to sign NPT until India does so, but says plant will be used solely for commercial purposes, will be subject to international safeguards. (Washington Post, 22 February 1990, A25; Financial Times, 22 February 1990, 4; Far Eastern Economic Review, 8 March 1990, 17)

October 1990

Pursuant to the 1985 Pressler amendment, US terminates economic and military assistance (including sales of military equipment) to Pakistan, after President Bush says that he cannot certify that Pakistan does not possess nuclear weapons. This action freezes ongoing military sales projects with Pakistan, including a 1989 deal for 28 F-16 fighters for which Pakistan has already paid. According to Congressional Research Service (CRS), the termination affects $564 million in new aid for FY1991. (Washington Post, 1 December 1990, A12; Associated Press, 21 September 1995; CRS 1992, 195)

October 9, 1990

In a meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Yaqub Khan, US Secretary of State James Baker reportedly tells Yaqub he cannot recommend certification under Pressler amendment unless Pakistan ceases enriching uranium to weapons-grade levels and destroys any existing weapons cores. Yaqub says Pakistan would freeze program but not destroy existing assets. (Kux 166)

July 30, 1992

US Senators accuse Bush administration of violating spirit of Pressler amendment by continuing to grant licenses for arms sales to Pakistan. The administration argues that commercial sales are not forbidden by Pressler amendment, which targets only contracts with the US government or special financial arrangements such as the Foreign Military Sales program. (International Trade Reporter, 5 August 1992, 1351)

July 25, 1993

Despite US intelligence suggesting otherwise, Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen tells his American counterpart that China has not sold M-11 missiles to Pakistan. He refuses, however, to comment on allegations that China has exported M-11 missile components. (New York Times, 26 July 1993, A2)

August 24, 1993

The US prohibits for two years exports of satellites and other advanced technology to China and Pakistan to protest the transfer of M-11 missiles to Pakistan. Both Islamabad and Beijing decry the move. Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar claims that past acquisitions of Chinese missiles were limited to short-range defensive weapons in response to SCUD attacks from Afghanistan. (Washington Post, 11 November 1993, A39; Financial Times, 27 August 1993, 4; International Trade Reporter, 1 September 1993, 1444)

November 28, 1993

Pakistan's foreign minister tells parliament that the government will not abandon efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, despite US sanctions. (Financial Times, 29 November 1993, 4)

March 23, 1994

The Clinton administration proposes sale of 38 new F-16 fighters worth $658 million to Pakistan in exchange for proof that Pakistan has capped its nuclear program. (Associated Press, 23 April 1994; Washington Post, 23 March 1994, A27)

October 4, 1994

The US agrees to lift satellite and satellite-related technology sanctions on China in exchange for Beijing's commitment not to sell missile technology to Pakistan. (International Trade Reporter, 12 October 1994, 1563)

January 10-11, 1995

US Defense Secretary William Perry visits Pakistan and India in an effort to reduce nuclear tensions in the region. The talks focus on preventing the spread of missile technology. (Nuclear Non-Proliferation News, 17 February 1995)

April 12, 1995

President Clinton tells visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto that it is "not right" for the US not to reimburse Islamabad for the cost of undelivered military equipment. He pledges to work with Congress to improve bilateral relations and resume military and economic cooperation. (Associated Press, 12 April 1995)

May 25, 1995

Pakistan hails the decision by Senator Pressler to support the sale of the embargoed F-16s to third countries, such as Taiwan and the Philippines, to raise revenue to repay Pakistan for its original purchase. (Financial Times, 26 May 1995, 4)

July 21, 1995

The Pakistani Senate's Foreign Affairs Committee issues a report urging the government to speed up its nuclear weapons program to make up for the damage done to Pakistan's conventional military forces by US sanctions. (Associated Press, 21 July 1995)

September 21, 1995

The Senate passes (55-45) the Brown amendment, which grants a one-time waiver for Pakistan under the 1985 Pressler amendment and permits the delivery of $368 million in weapons and components to Pakistan (Navy Orion aircraft, Harpoon and AIM-9L missiles) that have been suspended since 1990. The delivery of 28 F-16s that Pakistan paid for, however, remains suspended. India warns that the US decision to ease restrictions on the transfer of military equipment to Pakistan will upset the balance in the region. The Brown amendment also allows for resumption of limited forms of military assistance such as International Military Education and Training, counternarcotics, and counterterrorism as well as humanitarian assistance. (Associated Press, 20 September 1995; Inside U.S. Trade, 1 March 1996, 22; Financial Times, 21 March 1996, 4; Congressional Record-Senate, 21 September 1995)

February 1996

US intelligence officials disclose evidence that Pakistan has recently offloaded Chinese-made components for enriching uranium. A few days later, Britain deports a Pakistani diplomat on charges that he was attempting to illegally obtain nuclear equipment. Pakistani officials deny the charges. (Financial Times, 13 February 1996, 4; Reuters, 6 February 1996)

April 18, 1996

The US releases the $368 million of "non-strategic military equipment" purchased by Pakistan before 1990, as permitted under the Brown amendment, as well as $120 million in cash for orders never completed. However, US State Department spokesman Glyn Davis says, "... this release does not constitute the resumption of a [permanent] US military supply relationship with Pakistan." (UPI, 18 April 1996)

June-August 1996

The Clinton administration negotiates a deal to sell the embargoed F-16 combat jets to Indonesia and then transfer the fund to Pakistan. The sale, however, is postponed over human rights abuses and political repression in Indonesia (see Case 91-4, Netherland/US v. Indonesia [1991- : Human Rights in East Timor, Political Repression]). (Agence France-Presse, 21 August 1996, 5 September 1996; International Herald Tribune, 23 August 1996, 2)

December 1996

President Jiang Zemin announces that despite US and Indian concern, China will not stop helping Pakistan develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. (International Herald Tribune, 2 December 1996, 4)

April 8, 1997

Pakistan announces plans to buy 32 Mirage 2000-5 combat aircraft from France to replace the embargoed US F-16s. (Reuters, 8 April 1997)

May 24, 1997

Islamabad declares its intention to sue the United States in the US court system if no progress is made on repayment of the $650 million Washington owes Pakistan for the undelivered F-16s. (New York Times, 24 May 1997, 3)

July 1997

The Senate passes an amendment allowing for the resumption of Overseas Private Investment Corporation, Trade and Development Agency assistance, and democracy-building programs such as the National Endowment for Democracy. US economic and military assistance to Pakistan is still barred except for humanitarian and counternarcotics programs. (Congressional Record, 25 July 1997, H5818)

April 7, 1998

Pakistan successfully tests its new medium-range missile. The missile, named "Ghauri" after a 13th-century Muslim warrior, is capable of reaching deep into Indian territory. According to experts, the missile is based on smuggled North Korean technology. In a bid to prevent Pakistan from conducting this test, the US allegedly offered to resolve the F-16 dispute by reimbursing Pakistan. (Financial Times, 7 April 1998, 6; New York Times, 11 April 1998, A3)

May 4, 1998

After Pakistan's missile test, the US imposes sanctions against a Pakistani laboratory and a North Korean company, barring them from US government contracts for two years. Pakistan's government criticizes sanctions as unjust and claims that they bear no practical consequence since the targeted laboratory has no dealings with the US. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 4 and 5 May 1998)

May 11-13, 1998

India conducts a series of five nuclear tests. The US imposes sanctions against India as required by the Glenn amendment (Section 826-a of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act of 1994). The Glenn amendment provides for sanctions against nonnuclear states that detonate nuclear devices. The Clinton administration also threatens Pakistan with similar sanctions if it responds in kind. (USIS, 11 May 1998; New York Times, 12 May 1998, A10)

Mid-May 1998

In an effort to encourage Pakistan not to conduct nuclear tests, members of the US Congress and the administration propose to repeal the Pressler amendment. Bilateral talks, which aim at preventing Pakistani tests by answering some of Islamabad's security concerns, start between Pakistan and the US, as well as with China. Japan offers to shift its India aid to Pakistan if Pakistan refrains from nuclear testing. (USIS, 17 May 1998; Washington Post, 20 May 1998, A21; International Herald Tribune, 4 September 1998, 8)

May 18, 1998

At summit meeting G-8 nations condemn India's nuclear weapons test, call on India to refrain from further tests and to adhere to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), but are unable to agree on sanctions, because of opposition by France, Britain, and Russia. Government sources in Pakistan say the failure of G-8 to take stronger action against India strengthens those who advocate an immediate nuclear test. (USIS, 17 May 1998; Financial Times, 18 May 1998,1; Washington Post, 18 May 1998, A12)

May 21, 1998

India announces a moratorium on nuclear tests; expresses its willingness to adhere to some parts of the CTBT. US demands full and "unconditional" adherence to the treaty. (Washington Post, 22 May 1998, A35)

May 28 - June 1, 1998

Pakistan announces that it has conducted five nuclear tests; US intelligence sources report only two tests were conducted. A few days later Pakistan conducts another nuclear test. President Clinton deplores the tests and announces the imposition of sanctions under the Glenn amendment. Sanctions include a ban on financial assistance except for humanitarian purposes, a ban on financing from the Trade and Development Agency, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the Export-Import Bank, restrictions on US exports of high-technology products, opposition to loans from international financial institutions, and a ban on US bank loans to the government of Pakistan. Japan freezes most development aid and refuses to back new loans for Pakistan in international bodies. (USIS, 28 May 1998; International Herald Tribune, 29 May 1998, 1; Christian Science Monitor, 1 June 1998, 1)

May 31, 1998

India offers to negotiate a no-first-use treaty for nuclear weapons with Pakistan. Pakistan expresses willingness to enter talks with India but will not commit to such a treaty. (New York Times, 1 June 1998, 1; Wall Street Journal, 1 June 1998, A12)

June 4, 1998

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council condemn the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan and call on them to halt further actions. (New York Times, 5 June 1998, A8)

June 11, 1998

Pakistan announces a moratorium on nuclear testing. (Washington Post, 12 June 1998, A18)

June 12, 1998

G-8 nations agree to freeze all nonhumanitarian lending by multilateral agencies to both India and Pakistan. (Financial Times, 2 February 1999, 8)

June 13, 1998

Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Tariq Altaif warns that the country will not abandon its nuclear program and that sanctions against Pakistan are "unrealistic and based on a fictional notion of the realities in South Asia." (International Herald Tribune, 15 June 1998, 6)

May 31, 1998

India offers to negotiate a no-first-use treaty for nuclear weapons with Pakistan. Pakistan expresses willingness to enter talks with India but will not commit to such a treaty. (New York Times, 1 June 1998, 1; Wall Street Journal, 1 June 1998, A12)

June 18, 1998

Pending the issuance of regulations for implementing sanctions, the US Department of Commerce announces that it will approve licenses for exports of restricted goods and technologies on case-by-case basis, but with a presumption of denial for items controlled for nuclear or missile proliferation reasons. Bank loans to privately owned firms and investment by US companies are allowed, details on banned public sector transactions remain undefined. (USIS, 18 June 1998; Washington Post, 19 June 1998, A29; Journal of Commerce, 19 June 1998, 3A)

June 23, 1998

US Commerce Department announces that all sales of computers with speeds over 2,000 MTOPS to India and Pakistan require a license. (Journal of Commerce, 24 June 1998, 3A)

Late June 1998

In order to pay off debts due in June, the government of Pakistan borrows $110 million from the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank and $50 million from the National Bank of Pakistan. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 1 July 1998)

July 14, 1998

Standard & Poor's downgrades Pakistan's credit rating and warns that Pakistan could go bankrupt within two months. (Financial Times, 15 July 1998, 6)

July 15, 1998

President Clinton signs legislation that exempts for one year export credits for farm products from the Indian and Pakistani nuclear sanctions. Both houses of Congress had voted for legislation under pressure from US farmers fearing heavy losses due to sanctions. Immediate effect of legislation is to allow for the continuation of purchase negotiations for 385,000 tons of wheat by Pakistan. Previously approved credit guarantees include $250 million of credit for Pakistan and $20 million for India. (Financial Times, 15 July 1998, 5; USIS, 15 July 1998; Washington Post, 15 July 1998, A10)

July 18, 1998

The Pakistani government increases nondiesel gasoline prices by 25 percent in an effort to raise funds for budgetary shortfalls due to sanctions. (New York Times, 19 July 1998, 11)

July 21, 1998

Given Pakistani's tenuous financial condition, US says it will not veto International Monetary Fund (IMF) support for Pakistan. A US State Department spokesman insists that abstaining from an IMF vote on funds to Pakistan would still comply with the Glenn amendment. A few days later, G-8 nations agree to ease sanctions on Pakistan and allow for a loan by the IMF to avert a crisis. Negotiations begin between Pakistan and IMF on rescue package. (Financial Times, 3 August 1998, 3; New York Times, 22 July 1998, A3; IMF Morning Press, 24 July 1998)

July 23, 1998

Financial Times reports the architect of Pakistan's nuclear program as saying that the nation's nuclear weapons are "fully operational." (Financial Times, 23 July 1998, 5)

Late July 1998

Pakistani Commerce Minister Ishaque Dar admits Pakistan needs $4 billion to cover a financing gap over the next 12 months. Pakistan has a foreign debt of nearly $42 billion, and only around $500 million in hard currency reserves. (Financial Times, 3 August 1998, 3; 23 July 1998, 5)

Late July 1998

Pakistan's central bank institutes a dual exchange rate due to severe pressure on the rupee. (Financial Times, 28 July 1998, 6)

September 16, 1998

Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz announces Pakistan will not sign the CTBT while sanctions are in force against it. (Tribune News Services, 17 September 1998)

September 20, 1998

Pakistan Ministry of Finance officials say the nation is seeking $4.5 billion in loans from IMF. Previously IMF had put on hold $1.56 billion in loans to Pakistan. (Journal of Commerce, 21 September 1998, 3A)

September 23, 1998

A few days after meeting with President Clinton, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif tells the UN General Assembly Pakistan will sign the CTBT if India will also sign it. Sharif also calls for the removal of "arbitrary restrictions and discriminatory sanctions." (Washington Post, 24 September 1998, A27, A34)

September 24, 1998

Indian Prime Minister Atal Vajpayee indicates to the UN General Assembly that India is ready to sign the CTBT. (Economist, 3 October 1998, 46; Associated Press, 24 September 1998)

September 24, 1998

Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura says Pakistan imported a missile tested in April from North Korea. Pakistan denies the accusation, claiming the missile was built in Pakistan. Komura holds that Japan will withhold development aid "to countries that import missiles from North Korea." Japanese officials say sanctions will remain until Pakistan signs the CTBT and takes steps to comply with it. But Komura states that Japan will still consider backing loans to Pakistan from international institutions such as the IMF because of Pakistan's troubled economic situation. (Financial Times, 25 September 1998, 1; Yomiuri Shimbun, 7 October 1998)

September 29, 1998

President Clinton cancels his scheduled November trip to India and Pakistan as a sign of disapproval of the May nuclear tests. (Washington Post, 30 September 1998, A18)

Mid-October 1998

Despite the IMF's recommendation to raise electric power rates, Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif lowers them by 30 percent. "I cannot make anti-people decisions that might burden the lives of common people," he states. (New York Times, 20 October 1998, A4)

October 20, 1998

Congress passes omnibus spending legislation bill that contains a provision giving the president the right to waive sanctions against India and Pakistan for up to one year, except for the prohibition against arms sales. (USIS, 19 October 1998; Financial Times, 21 October 1998, 6)

November 7, 1998

Clinton administration waives provision of sanctions against India and Pakistan that bars the US Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the Trade and Development Agency from operating there. International Military Education and Training programs also resume for both nations. US will continue to oppose nonhumanitarian multilateral development aid to India. Arms sales to both countries are still banned, as are exports of certain dual-use technologies to certain end-users. (Financial Times, 9 November 1998, 6; Washington Post, 7 November 1998, A14; Financial Express (India), 9 November 1998)

November 25, 1998

IMF announces that, pending board approval, it will resume sending the $1.3 billion left of its current loan package to Pakistan. Pakistani government announces steps it will take to shore up the economy, including increasing sales tax, fighting corruption, cutting spending, and strengthening the banking system. Pakistani government hopes that the IMF money will be part of a broader $5.5 billion in funding to shore up its financing gap. (New York Times, 26 November 1998, A17; Wall Street Journal, 27 November 1998, A9)

Late November 1998

On the eve of Prime Minister Sharif's visit to Washington, DC, Pakistan's leading nuclear scientist claims the nation has started producing a new missile. (Journal of Commerce, 1 December 1998, 8A)

December 1, 1998

US officials announce that New Zealand will take the 28 F-16 fighters bought by Pakistan but held up by Congress in 1990. The lease-buy arrangement will cost New Zealand about $105 million. Pakistan had already paid $650 million for them, $157 million of which the US reimbursed through sales to other parties. Pakistan wants $501 million more back. (New York Times, 2 December 1998, A5; Washington Post, 3 December 1998, A34; Wall Street Journal, 3 December 1998, A17)

December 21, 1998

US and Pakistan reach agreement regarding F-16s that Pakistan purchased but were not delivered owing to the imposition of sanctions under the Pressler amendment. US will pay $324.5 million to settle dispute. (USIS, 21 December 1998; Journal of Commerce, 25 January 1999, 1A)

January 1999

World Bank and IMF renew lending to Pakistan; World Bank approves a $350 million loan for reform efforts, IMF clears a $545 million payment from a $1.5 billion loan package. (Journal of Commerce, 25 January 1999, 1A)

February 2, 1999

After talks in Islamabad, US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad reaffirm their commitment to resolving the conflict over nuclear testing. Talbott stresses US support for strengthening the Pakistani economy and for talks between Pakistan and India, including on Kashmir. (USIS, 2 February 1999; Financial Times, 3 February 1999, 8)

February 1999

Pakistan's government tells the US it expects an end to restrictions on weapons sales under the Pressler amendment if it is to sign the CTBT. (Financial Times, 17 February 1999, 6)

February 21, 1999

After meeting in Lahore, Pakistan, the prime ministers of India and Pakistan agree to transparency measures regarding nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. The two rivals will provide each other information on amounts of nuclear warheads and their deployment. They will also share information on amounts of ballistic missiles and warn each other in advance of ballistic missile tests. (Washington Post, 22 February 1999, A9)

April 11, 1999

India tests the Agni-II, a ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers that can carry a nuclear warhead. The government gave advance warning to Pakistan and the world's "major powers." A US official says the test will not affect US sanctions. (Financial Times, 12 April 1999, 18; 13 April 1999, 6)

April 14, 1999

Pakistan tests its Ghauri-II missile, which has a range of up to 2,300 kilometers. Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh assures the world that India and Pakistan's actions do not constitute the beginning of an arms race. (Financial Times, 15 April 1999, 10)

April 15, 1999

Pakistan tests the Shabeen-1 missile, which has a range of 600 kilometers and can carry a nuclear warhead. India declares the test will not hinder bilateral talks. (Financial Times, 16 April 1999, 4)

End April 1999

Indian government collapses, new elections are scheduled for September 1999. This reduces the likelihood of either India or Pakistan signing the CTBT before 24 September 1999 as required under the terms of the treaty for it to enter to force (see Legal Notes). (New York Times, 27 April 1999, A14; 9 May 1999, A4)

July 4,1999

President Clinton meets with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Washington to resolve an escalating crisis between India and Pakistan over Kashmir following the incursion of Pakistani-backed forces into Indian-controlled territory. Sharif promises to withdraw forces, to de-escalate crisis. (USIS, 6 July 1999; Washington Post, 26 July 1999, A1, A15)

September 8, 1999

In response to India's announcement of a "nuclear doctrine," Pakistani Foreign Secretary states that Pakistan may find it harder to sign the CTBT despite promises made by Sharif to adhere to the treaty. (Financial Times, 8 September 1999, 4; 9 September 1999, 6)

October 12, 1999

Prime Minister Sharif is ousted by General Pervez Musharraf in a bloodless coup. Over the course of the next few days, General Musharraf declares state of emergency, suspends parliament and the constitution and pronounces himself the country's chief executive. US Department of State condemns the coup and calls for "the earliest possible restoration of democracy in Pakistan." (New York Times, 13 October 1999, A1, A10; Washington Post, 15 October 1999, A1) (See also Case 99-3 US, Japan v. Pakistan [1999-2001: Coup, restore democracy])

October, 14 1999

Republican-dominated US Senate votes 51 to 48 against ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) after majority leader Trent Lott (R-MS) schedules a surprise vote. Clinton administration warns that unless Senate ratifies the treaty countries such as Russia, China, Pakistan and India will renew nuclear testing. (Washington Post, 14 October 1999, A1; 15 October 1999, A1, A16)

October, 14 1999

Senate approves Department of Defense appropriations bill containing a provision that gives the president authority to permanently waive all economic sanctions imposed against India and Pakistan in response to the nuclear tests, including for the first time, sanctions relating to military assistance and exports of high technology items. However, in light of the recent coup, Clinton administration invokes Section 508 of Foreign Operations Appropriations Act that requires US aid be cut off to any country whose democratically elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree and does not renew military and economic aid to Pakistan. (Inside US Trade, 15 October 1999; International Trade Reporter, 13 October 1999; CRS 2002a, 3; Washington Post, 15 October 1999, A24; 16 October 1999, A21)

October 26-27, 1999

During visit in Islamabad, Japanese State Foreign Secretary Ichita Yamamoto announces that official development aid will only be resumed once Pakistan gives a date for elections and signs the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Japan cut off between $300 million to $500 million in annual aid and loans in response to the 1998 nuclear tests. (Dow Jones, 27 October 1999; Reuters, 27 October 1999; Japan Economic Newswire, 27 October 1999)

October 27, 1999

President Clinton waives restrictions on Department of Agriculture export credits to Pakistan as well as on loans and credits to the Pakistani government by US commercial banks. Other restrictions are not waived a second time and sanctions under Section 508 of the annual foreign appropriations act as a result of the coup remain in place. (Presidential Determination 2000–04, 27 October 1999; CRS 2002a, 3; CRS 2003, 13)

March 25, 2000

President Clinton makes a 6-hour stopover in Pakistan during a weeklong visit of the region. General Musharraf makes no new concessions on Kashmir, signing of the CTBT or restoration of democracy in two-hour meeting with President Clinton. However, Musharraf agrees to put pressure on the Taliban regime in Afghanistan over Osama bin Laden. (Washington Post, 26 March 2000, A1; New York Times, 26 March 2000, A1) (See also Case 99-1 US/UN v. Afghanistan (Taliban) [1999–2002: extradition of Osama Bin Laden])

September 1, 2001

Bush administration imposes sanctions against National Development Complex of Pakistan for allegedly buying missile technology from China. (Washington Post, 3 September 2001, A17; Asian Wall Street Journal, 3 September 2001, 12)

September 11, 2001

Four hijacked planes on suicide missions crash into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington DC and a field in southwestern Pennsylvania. Part of the Pentagon and the two World Trade Center towers collapse; more than 3,000 people die in the attack. US officials and investigators quickly identify Osama bin Laden as mastermind behind the attacks. Bin Laden denies that he is responsible. (Washington Post, 14 September 2001, A9; New York Times, 21 September 2001, A1, B3)

September 22, 2001

President Bush waives all remaining nuclear related sanctions as well as prohibitions on Export-Import Bank credits in recognition of Pakistan’s cooperation with the US-led war against terrorism and imminent military action in Afghanistan. Coup-related restrictions on economic and military aid as well as sanctions imposed against specific Pakistani entities over missile related concerns remain in place. US and Pakistan sign an agreement on the rescheduling of $379 million of Pakistani arrears. Pakistan is also in negotiations with IMF for a $2.5 to $3 billion three-year IMF program. (Financial Times, 24 September 2001, 4; Wall Street Journal, 24 September 2001, A26; CRS 2003, 13; Presidential Determination No. 2001-28, 22 September 2001)

September 28, 2001

President Bush determines that the release of $50 million in emergency aid to Pakistan is “important to the security interests of the United States.” (Presidential Determination No. 2001-31, 28 September 2001; Washington Post, 2 October 2001, A12)

October 16, 2001

Following Senate approval, US House of Representatives approves legislation allowing the president to waive restrictions on US aid to Pakistan imposed after the coup for two years, if he determines it to be important for US counterterrorism efforts. (International Trade Reporter, 11 October 2001, 1607; 18 October 2001, 1651; PL 107-57; CRS 2003, 13)

October 26, 2001

Japan lifts its sanctions against both India and Pakistan in recognition of their support for the US-led war on terrorism. Previously Japan had conditioned the resumption of its aid program on signing of the CTBT and restoration of democracy. (Yomiuri Shimbun, 27 October 2002; BBC Monitoring, 29 October 2002; CRS 2002b, 10)

February 13, 2002

President Bush meets General Musharraf in Washington. Bush praises Pakistan’s contributions to the war on terrorism and offers to work with Congress on providing Pakistan about $1 billion in debt relief in FY 2003. Administration also increases market access for Pakistani textile exports worth about $142 million. Offers fall short of Pakistan’s requests. (White House Fact Sheet, 13 February 2002; Financial Times, 14 February 2002, 4)

July 2002

Administration notifies US Congress of two pending arms sales to Pakistan, the first such sales in more than a decade. (CRS 2003, 15)

March 24, 2003

Administration bars all US trade with Pakistan’s Khan Research Laboratories for two years for allegedly purchasing missile-related technology from North Korea. Sanctions are largely symbolic because company has no business ties with the US. Despite recent threats to do so, Bush administration does not impose tougher sanctions in response Pakistan’s alleged assistance to North Korea’s nuclear program and waives all coup-related sanctions against Islamabad for FY 2003. (Presidential Determination No. 2003-16, 14 March 2003; Washington Post, 31 March 2003, A4; Financial Times, 1 April 2003, 6; CRS 2003, 15)

June 24, 2003

During meeting with President Musharraf in Camp David, President Bush announces a five-year $3 billion aid package for Pakistan. Aid will be conditioned on Pakistan’s continued cooperation with the war on terrorism, commitment to nuclear non-proliferation and progress toward democracy. US and Pakistan also sign a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. (New York Times, 25 June 2003, A10; Washington Post, 25 June 2003, A1; USIS, 26 June 2003)

Goals of Sender Country

December 1, 1979
Howard B. Schaffer, country director for India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka affairs, US State Department: "Our ability to provide Pakistan with the support we would wish to give it has been restricted by Pakistan's nuclear activities. Our legislation mandates a cutoff of most development and military assistance to countries which import certain sensitive nuclear equipment, material, and technology, including equipment used for uranium enrichment. The fact that Pakistan has been developing a uranium enrichment program which is inconsistent with its power generation or research needs has caused us deep concern. ... We have expressed our concern to the Pakistanis about their nuclear activities and have urged them not to move forward to develop a nuclear explosives capability. We believe that the development of such a capability would aggravate rather than relieve their security concerns and could be a major source of instability in the South Asian region." (US Department of State, Bulletin, February 1980, 63)

January 21, 1980
President Jimmy Carter, State of the Union message: "A high priority for us in the region is to manage our nuclear concerns with India and Pakistan in ways that are compatible with our global and regional priorities. The changed security situation in South Asia arising from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan calls for legislative action to allow renewed assistance to Pakistan. But this in no way diminishes our commitment to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation, in Pakistan or elsewhere." (US Department of State, Bulletin, February 1980, special section, p. L)

Fall 1986
Unidentified senior Reagan administration official: Because of priority accorded support for Afghan rebels, which is channeled through Pakistan, "This administration wouldn't come down on Pakistan if we found a bomb in Zia's basement." (Washington Post, 4 November 1986, A1)

June 1998
Assistant Secretary of State Karl Inderfurth: "We will be looking for both parties [India and Pakistan] to take such steps as:

  • Sign and ratify CTBT without delay or condition
  • Halt production of fissile material and participate constructively on FMCT [Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty] negotiations
  • Accept IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] safeguards on all nuclear facilities
  • Agree not to deploy or test missile systems
  • Maintain existing restraints against sharing nuclear and missile technology or equipment with others
  • Agree upon a framework to reduce bilateral tensions, including on Kashmir" (USIS, 3 June 1998)

Response of Target Country

April 9, 1979
Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs attributes US ban to influence of "Zionist circles" that it says fear that development of atomic bomb in this Islamic country would be used by "Muslim world" to menace Israel. Official labels ban "discriminatory" and "incomprehensible," concedes that while amount of aid involved is small ($80 million per year) "any diminution would be felt." (New York Times, 9 April 1979, 1)

Summer 1979
President Zia declares: "Pakistan would never compromise on its sovereignty. Our economic aid has been affected but we have absorbed its impact and the entire nation supports the government's stand because it is united on this issue. ... we shall eat crumbs [but] not allow our national interest to be compromised in any manner whatsoever." (Tahir-Kheli 135)

July 22, 1979
Khalid Ali, press counselor at Pakistani embassy in US: "Pakistan is prepared to make a joint declaration with India and other states in South Asia to renounce the acquisition or manufacture of nuclear weapons. Pakistan is ready to proceed with the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in South Asia. Pakistan would also be prepared to accept international inspection of all nuclear facilities in the South Asian region, or if India prefers, a system of bilateral inspection on a reciprocal basis." (New York Times, 22 July 1979, IV 18)

March 1987
Zia, in an interview with Time: "Pakistan has the capability of building the Bomb whenever it wishes." But in same interview Zia denies that Pakistan intends to manufacture nuclear weapons or that it has enriched uranium to weapons grade. (Spector 1988, 133-34)

Unnamed Pakistanis, after invocation of Pressler amendment: "Now that the Afghan war is over, the US no longer needs Pakistan. You Americans have discarded us like a piece of used Kleenex." (Kux 116)

May 1998
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif: "They [nuclear scientists] have demonstrated Pakistan's ability to deter aggression. Pakistan has been obliged to exercise the nuclear option because of the weaponization of India's nuclear program. This had led to the collapse of existing deterrence and had radically altered the strategic balance in our region." (New York Times, 29 May 1998, A8)

August 1998
Foreign Ministry spokesman Tariq Altaf: "We have a large and multifaceted relationship with the U.S. We can cooperate on certain things while disagreeing on others. We know they are concerned about non-proliferation, but they must understand we have an absolute and genuine security need, and it is counterproductive to penalize us for it this way." (Washington Post, 26 August 1998, A15)

Attitude of Other Countries

World Bank, West Germany, Japan
In May 1979 the World Bank and the International Development Association (IDA) announce approval of loans totaling $79 million to Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the Philippines. In June 1980 the US respond to pressure from Japan and West Germany, allowing rescheduling of Pakistan's $5.1 billion debt held by a consortium of advanced countries. (New York Times, 1 June 1979, IV 18)

Middle East, North Africa
In early April 1979 Saudi Arabia and other unnamed Persian Gulf states increase financial aid to Pakistan to offset the US cutoff. Saudi Arabia agrees to contribute $40 million together with unspecified amounts from other Gulf states. (Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Daily Report: The Middle East and Northern Africa, 13 April 1979, S3)

US intelligence sources say China has provided Pakistan with sensitive nuclear weapon design information; Pakistan's nuclear program since mid-1970s has been "clearly aimed at developing nuclear weapons." Sources believe US efforts have delayed but not diverted drive for atomic bomb. "By confirming for Pakistan that a particular weapon design could work, the Chinese may have made it possible for Pakistan to proceed with its effort to build atomic bombs without staging an early nuclear test that would bring a cutoff of American military aid." (Washington Post, 28 January 1983, A1)

Fall 1986: After reports that Pakistan has capability to produce highly enriched uranium, Indian nuclear officials warn that "India, too, could and would enrich uranium for weapons." (Washington Post, 6 November 1986, A21)

After the September 1995 decision to relax controls on Pakistan's previously purchased equipment, Foreign Ministry spokesman Arif Khan warned, "The U.S. move would not be conducive to promoting peace, security and stability in South Asia," adding that "India is committed to taking all necessary measures to counter the adverse effects on our security." (Associated Press, 22 September 1996)

Prime Minister Atal Vajpayee
In speech to Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament) after news of Pakistan's tests: "These (Pakistani) tests vindicate our policy. We had apprehensions about this. India is ready to meet any challenge." (Reuters, 28 May 1998)

Legal Notes

Symington amendment to Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, in International Security Assistance Act of 1977:
Sec. 669. Nuclear Enrichment Transfers.

(a) Except as provided in subsection (b), no funds to be authorized by this Act or the Arms Export Control Act may be used for the purpose of providing economic assistance, providing military or security supporting assistance or granting military education or training, or extending military credits or making guarantees, to any country which, on or after the date of enactment of the International Security Assistance Act of 1977, delivers nuclear enrichment equipment, materials, or technology to any other country, or receives such equipment, materials, or technology from any other country, unless before such delivery, (1) the supplying country and receiving country have reached agreement to place all such equipment, materials, or technology upon delivery, under multilateral auspices and management when available; and (2) the recipient country has entered into an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency to place all such equipment, materials, technology, and all nuclear fuel and facilities in such country under the safeguards system of such Agency.
(b) The President may waive this requirement if he determines that: (1) the termination of such assistance would have a serious adverse effect on vital United States interests; and (2) he has received reliable assurances that the country in question will not acquire or develop nuclear weapons or assist other nations in doing so. (Congressional Research Service 1980, 31)

1985 Pressler amendment:
"Prohibits furnishing Pakistan with military equipment or technology unless the President certifies to the Congress during the fiscal year in which such assistance is furnished that Pakistan does not possess a nuclear explosive device and that the proposed U.S. aid program will reduce significantly the risk that Pakistan will possess such a device." (Public Law 99-83, 8 August 1995)

1994 Glenn amendment, in Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act of 1994 (Sec. 826-a):
If ... the President determines that any country after April 30, 1994, ... (B) is a non-nuclear state and ... (ii) detonates a nuclear device, ... the President shall forthwith impose the following sanctions.

(A) The United States Government shall terminate assistance to that country ... except for humanitarian assistance or other agricultural commodities.
(B) The United States Government shall terminate (i) sales to that country under this act of any defense articles, defense services or design and construction services and (ii) licenses for the export to that country of any item on the United States Munitions List.
(C) The United States Government shall terminate all foreign military financing for that country under this Act.
(D) The United States Government shall deny to that country any credit, credit guarantees, or other financial assistance by any department, agency, or instrumentality of the United States Government, except ... [for] humanitarian assistance.
(E) The United States Government shall oppose ... the extension of any loan or financial or technical assistance to that country by any international financial institution.
(F) The United States Government shall prohibit any United States bank from making any loan or providing any credit to the government of that country, except for loans or credits for the purpose of purchasing food or other agricultural commodities.
(G) The authorities of section 6 of the Export Administration Act of 1979 shall be used to prohibit exports to that country of specific goods and technology (excluding food and other agricultural commodities), except that such requirements shall not apply to any transaction subject to the reporting requirements of Title V of the National Security Act of 1947.

Waiver: None. The President may, however, delay the sanction for 30 session days.

Note: The administration never wrote the generic implementing regulations after the bill passed Congress and only released specific regulations implementing parts of the Indian and Pakistani sanctions on 19 November 1998, after most sanctions had been waived.

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

"Under article XIV (Entry into Force), the Treaty will not enter into force until it has been signed and ratified by the 44 States listed in annex 2 to the Treaty. ... If the Treaty has not entered into force "three years after the date of the anniversary of its opening for signature" [24 September 1999], a conference of those States that have already ratified it may be held to decide what measures may be taken to accelerate the ratification process and to facilitate the Treaty's entry into force." (Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization,

Economic Impact

Observed Economic Statistics

Pakistan received $6.4 million in aid in FY1996, and $2.5 million in FY1997 under the counternarcotics and food aid programs. (US Agency for International Development, FY1998 Congressional Presentation)

Pakistan paid $658 million for 28 F-16s, which were stored at a US air force base in Arizona after Pressler amendment barred transfer. (Associated Press, 25 May 1995)

"US aid had totaled about $650 million annually. But last month, the US, pinched by budget austerity, decided that even if Pakistan gives up its nuclear-weapons program, it only will receive about $200 million." (Wall Street Journal, 5 February 1991, A8)

Military spending accounts for almost half of Pakistan's $13 billion annual budget. India spends slightly more in absolute terms. (Associated Press, 8 January 1996)

"As 1998 began, the only tangible benefit Pakistan received [from the Brown amendment] was the delivery of $368 million worth of military equipment, which it had paid for already, and the renewal of investment guarantees." (Kux 168)

"Across Pakistan, the economic news worsens by the day. Since the nuclear tests in May, the prices of such basic goods as food and gasoline have shot up by as much as 25 percent. The Karachi Stock Exchange had lost 40 percent of its value before Thursday-and it dropped again after the missile strikes. The rupee, Pakistan's currency, has lost 30 percent of its value against the dollar." (International Herald Tribune, 8 August 1998, 1)

"Pakistan depends on foreign aid to cover its budget deficit, and was jolted when the IMF stopped one payment of a phased, three-year, $1.56 billion loan package as part of economic sanctions following the nuclear tests." (Associated Press, 7 September 1998)

"The immediate pressure is acute, with reportedly less than three weeks' import cover, and reserves insufficient to cover the estimated $1.7 billion owed over the next eight weeks to foreign commercial banks and to the World Bank and the IMF." (International Herald Tribune, 4 September 1998, 8)

"Mr. Sharif's fall-back solution for the economy is an aid package expected from the Islamic Development Bank and other Middle Eastern donors. But though this could amount to as much as $1.5 billion, it is no long-term solution when the external funding shortfall this year is likely to be $4 billion or more." (Financial Times, 27 August 1998, 9)

"Since the Indian tests, the KSE-100 index has fallen more than 40 percent. But in the past two weeks, the market has clawed back 9.5 percent on expectations that Pakistan is about to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to end its nuclear row with the west. Reports that the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank has extended a $200m loan to co-finance a $1.5bn Islamic loan fund for Pakistan also helped sentiment." (Financial Times, 22 September 1998, 38)

"There is now only about $500m left in liquid foreign reserves or just two weeks' worth of imports, down from over $1bn when the nuclear tests were conducted." (Financial Times, 7 October 1998, 4)

"The country's foreign exchange reserves have fallen sharply to just over $400m, … and it has accumulated almost $1.4b in unpaid debts to commercial banks and other creditors since June, when sanctions were imposed." (Financial Times, 2 December 1998, 4)

"Sanctions imposed on Pakistan following last year’s [1998] nuclear tests precipitated a balance-of-payment crisis and a near default on its external debt. The Pakistani economy, unlike India’s, faced an immediate foreign debt crisis. A U.S.$1.56 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) helped stave off default and stabilize the country’s external financing position. … Although an IMF loan has enabled the country to reschedule U.S. $3.3 billion of its short-term bilateral debt with the Paris Club of official creditors, the country’s external financial position remains vulnerable. With declining foreign remittances and foreign exchange earnings, Pakistan is vitally dependent on debt rescheduling agreements to meet its external payment obligations. At present, the government is seeking to reschedule about U.S. $800 million in commercial debt with the London Club of commercial creditors and U.S. $520 million in offshore trade debt with a group of commercial foreign banks." (Center for Strategic Studies, South Asian Monitor no. 11, 1 July 1999)

"Pakistan’s economy is in the midst of a recession. Output growth has slowed from 4.3 percent in 1997-1998 to 3.1 percent in 1998-1999, … Growth in agriculture slowed sharply from 3.8 percent in 1997-1998 to 0.4 percent in 1998-1999,… Growth in manufacturing has also slowed steeply of the last year, from 7.9 percent to 2.7 percent." (Center for Strategic Studies, South Asian Monitor no. 11, 1 July 1999)

"Foreign direct investment fell over the last year from U.S. $436 million to U.S. $296 million, and portfolio investment from U.S. $204 million to U.S. $4.7 million." (Center for Strategic Studies, South Asian Monitor no. 11, 1 July 1999)

Pakistan: US assistance, 1984-2001 (millions of US dollars)

Military aid
Economic Aid



a Numbers partly reflect settlement reached in December 1998 over F-16 fighters bought by Pakistan but never delivered.
Source: US Agency for International Development, Overseas Loans and Grants, Obligations and Loans Authorizations, available at

Pakistan: Export-Import Bank assistance, 1994-2001 (millions of US dollars)





Source: Export-Import Bank annual reports, various issues.

Pakistan: US military sales, commercial exports licensed under Arms Export Control Act (millions of dollars)

Military sales
Commercial exports





Source: Foreign Military sales, Foreign Military Construction Sales, and Military Assistance Facts, as of September 30, 2001.

"As a result [of heightened US export controls], much of …the $1.2 billion in exports to Pakistan in 1997 consisted of low-tech products like fertilizers, cereals and consumer goods." ( Journal of Commerce , 25 March 1998, 1)

Pakistan: Multilateral loans, 1992-1996 (million of dollars)

Total multilateral


Source: World Bank, World Debt Tables, 1996.

Calculated Economic Impact (annual cost to target country)
Phase I: 1979-90  
1979 cutoff of economic and military aid more than offset by much larger aid flows following Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
Phase II: 1991-98
Reduction in economic and military aid after application of Pressler amendment; welfare loss calculated as 50 percent of average annual aid flows, 1988-90 (this assumes that a substantial reduction of aid flows was inevitable with collapse of USSR)
$316 million
Military equipment paid for but withheld under Pressler amendment, including F-16s; welfare loss calculated as 10 percent of value of equipment withheld.
$115 million
Total, Phase II
$431 million
Phase III: 1998
Reduction in reserves and increase in debt arrears due in part to suspension of IMF lending for 6 months; welfare loss calculated as 10 percent of value of drop in reserves and increase in arrears
$200 million
Total average annual cost, 1991-98
$456 million

Relative Magnitudes

Gross indicators of Pakistani economy  

        Pakistan GNP (1990)
        Pakistan Population (1990)

$ 41.1 billion
112.4 million
Annual effect of sanctions related to gross indicators  
        Percentage of GNP
        Per capita
Pakistan trade with US as percentage of total trade
        Exports (1990)
        Imports (1990)
Ratio of US GNP (1990: $5,524.6 billion) to Pakistani GNP

Source: IMF, International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1998; IMF, Direction of Trade Flows Yearbook, 1996.


US State Department
April 1979: State Department officials say they doubt aid cutoff would restrain Pakistanis' nuclear ambitions; some suggest it could move them closer to building bomb. "Although a senior State Department official said the cutoff would convince Pakistan and other would-be nuclear powers 'that we mean business in our nuclear nonproliferation policy,' numerous officials insisted that in halting over $80 million in economic assistance, the administration lost the little leverage it had on Pakistan's nuclear plans." (New York Times, 17 April 1979, A3)

Central Intelligence Agency
January 1982: CIA estimates that Pakistan will have capability to detonate device within three years but probably would choose not to do so, at least in part because of Zia's "unwillingness to jeopardize the Reagan administration's six-year $3.2 billion military and economic aid program." (New York Times, 24 January 1982, A6)

Shirin Tahir-Kheli
"At the very least, the pressure applied by the Carter administration on Pakistan hardened the latter's attitude and pushed the issue within the rhetoric of intense nationalism." (Tahir-Kheli 127)

Gerard C. Smith and Helena Cobban
"[W]hile the two branches of government deliberately and visibly subordinated nonproliferation policy to Afghan policy, Pakistan was sliding over the threshold of nuclear weapons possession." (Smith and Cobban 59)

Leonard S. Spector
"[I]t appears that Pakistan is firmly committed to enlarging its de facto nuclear weapon stockpile. At the same time, because of the threat of U.S. sanctions and the fear of stimulating India to pursue its own nuclear capabilities more aggressively, Pakistan appears unlikely to alter its ambiguous nuclear status by conducting a test or declaring it possesses nuclear arms." (Spector 1988, 146)

T. V. Paul
"[T]he evidence that sanctions did not result in a change of policy is to be found in Pakistan's continuing development of a nuclear weapons programme. … Economic sanctions against trade in arms have not forced Pakistan to abandon its nuclear acquisition efforts. India is perceived as such an enormous security threat that the Pakistani elite acquired all the components necessary for a nuclear weapons programme through clandestine means. … [In general] sanctions against a potential proliferator in a protracted conflict zone without a nuclear ally are unlikely to succeed, particularly if the proliferator is an isolated state." (Paul 1996, 454-455)

Dennis Kux
"Although one can argue that sanctions deterred Pakistan from fielding an overt weapons capability, the fact that India had not done so until 1998 probably was more important. As long as India kept its capability undeclared, Pakistan could satisfy its deterrent requirement by nuclear ambiguity." (Kux 169)

Teresita C. Schaffer
"The U.S. threat to discontinue aid probably delayed the completion of Pakistan's nuclear explosive device, perhaps by a couple of years. Nevertheless, neutralizing India's military advantage by developing nuclear capability consistently ranked higher on Pakistan's priority list than receiving economic aid and even military supplies from anyone, including the United States." (Schaffer 172)

Journal of Commerce
"Problems with the sanctions law emerged soon after both countries [India and Pakistan] staged a series of nuclear tests last May. It quickly became clear that the mandatory curbs were so tough that they could only serve as a deterrent. No one knew how to apply them if testing actually took place.

"The first thing that U.S. officials found was that they had neglected to write implementing regulations for the sanctions law.

"… As a result, the sanctions were ineffective as a deterrent and ambiguous as a punishment." (Journal of Commerce, 22 February 1999, 4A)

Daniel Morrow and Michael Carriere
“The fact that the threat of the US sanctions failed to prevent the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan is certainly not sufficient reason to abandon the Glenn Amendment. Although the US threat ultimately failed in the case of India and Pakistan, it might be the case that the threat of sanctions delayed testing by many years for both nations. A sufficient rationale for executing the threat was, as Undersecretary of State Talbott said, to create a disincentive for other states to exercise the nuclear option if they are contemplating it.” (Morrow and Carriere 1999, 13)

Randy J. Rydell
“Both the threat and the implementation of sanctions have advanced US nonproliferation goals in both India and Pakistan, whether they be measured in (a) the length of time it took for such tests to finally occur, (b) the costs of having to undertake such tests quickly, underground, and with elaborate measures of deception, or (c) the message US actions have sent to the world community about America’s commitment to defend both global ideals and its own national security interests. The sanctions are in all likelihood key reasons explaining why neither country has proceeded with additional tests.” (Rydell 1999, 11)

Author's Summary

Overall Assessment

Policy result, scaled from 1 (failed) to 4 (success)


Sanctions contribution, scaled from 1 (none) to 4 (significant)


Success score (policy result times sanctions contribution) scaled from 1 (outright failure) to 16 (significant success)

Political and economic variables    

Companion policies J (covert), Q (quasi-military), R (regular military)

International cooperation with sender, scaled from 1 (none) to 4 (significant)


International assistance to target A (if present)


Cooperating international organizations


Sanction period (years)


Economic health and political stability of target, scaled from 1 (distressed) to 3 (strong)


Presanction relations between sender and target, scaled from 1 (antagonistic) to 3 (cordial)

3 2

Regime type of target, scaled from 1 (authoritarian) to 3 (democratic)

2 2

Type of sanction X (export), M (import), F (financial)


Cost to sender, scaled from 1 (net gain) to 4 (major loss)

2 2

1 Saudi Arabia and other Arab states provided small amounts of offsetting assistance to Pakistan in 1979 but it was swamped by the flows of US assistance after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.


In the late 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, public assessments focused on dissuasion; in the immediate aftermath of nuclear tests, the assessments focused on deterrence; thereafter attention shifted to the CTBT and associated restraints. Obviously dissuasion and deterrence failed. The policy result score of 1 assumes that Pakistan will not sign the CTBT anytime soon, and will not sign the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty or discontinue the weaponization of missiles.


Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. 1980. Nuclear Proliferation Factbook. Prepared for Subcommittee on Energy, Nuclear Proliferation, and Federal Services of the Senate Committee on Governmental Operations, and the Subcommittee on International Economic Policy and Trade of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. 96th Cong., 2d sess., Summer. Washington.

Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. 1992. US Economic Sanctions Imposed against Specific Foreign Countries, 1979 through 1992. August 10 (revised). Washington.

Congressional Research Service. (CRS ) 2002a. India and Pakistan: Current U.S. Economic Sanctions . RS20995. By Dianne E. Rennack. Updated 11 February.

Congressional Research Service. (CRS ) 2002b. India-US Relations. IB93097. By K. Alan Kronstadt. Updated 7 November.

Congressional Research Service (CRS) 2003. Pakistan-US Relations . IB94041. By K. Alan Kronstadt. Updated 6 May.

Foreign Broadcasting Information Service. 1979. Daily Report: the Middle East and Northern Africa,13 April, S3.

International Monetary Fund (IMF). 1980. International Financial Statistics Yearbook. Washington.

Kapur, Ashok. 1980. A Nuclearizing Pakistan: Some Hypotheses. Asian Survey 20 (May): 495-516.

Kux, Dennis. 1998. Pakistan. In Economic Sanctions and American Diplomacy, ed. Richard N. Haass. New York: Council on Foreign Relations.

Morrow, Daniel and Michael Carriere. 1999. Economic Impacts of the 1998 Sanctions on India and Pakistan. The Nonproliferation Review 6, no.4 (Fall): 1-16.

Paul, T. V. 1996. Strengthening the Non-Proliferation Regime: The Role of Coercive Sanctions. International Journal 51, no. 3 (Summer), 441-65.

Rydell, Randy J. 1999. Giving Nonproliferation Norms Teeth: Sanctions and the NPPA. The Nonproliferation Review 6, no. 2 (Winter): 1-19.

Schaffer, Teresita C. 2002. U.S. Influence on Pakistan: Can Partners Have Divergent Priorities. The Washington Quarterly 26, no. 1 (Winter): 169-183.

Smith, Gerard C., and Helena Cobban. 1989. A Blind Eye to Nuclear Proliferation. Foreign Affairs 68 (Summer): 53-70.

Spector, Leonard, US Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Energy, Nuclear Proliferation and Government Processes. Interview with authors, 24 January 1983.

Spector, Leonard. 1983. The Undeclared Bomb. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger.

Tahir-Kheli, Shirin. 1982. The United States and Pakistan: Evolution of an Influence Relationship. New York: Praeger.

Yager, Joseph A., ed. 1980. Nonproliferation and U.S. Foreign Policy. Washington: Brookings Institution.

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