Zia assured Reagan Pakistan would not build nuclear bomb, CIA documents reveal


Former military ruler General Ziaul Haq had assured former US president Ronald Reagan that Pakistan would not build an atomic bomb, classified documents have revealed.

United States’ premier spy agency, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), in its recently declassified documents of 12 million pages, mention a letter written to the ex-US president by the then military dictator.

The letter is an apparent response to Reagan’s earlier message delivered to Gen Zia by then US ambassador Vernon Walters. “I can assure you that we neither possess nor have transmitted any designs or specifications of nuclear weapons components to anyone,” Zia wrote in his reply to Reagan.

Referring his earlier assurances on the subject, Zia cited his remarks to former US president Jimmy Carter “that Pakistan’s nuclear programme is entirely peaceful and that Pakistan has no intention of acquiring or manufacturing nuclear weapons.”

In another reference, he said, “we have no intention whatsoever of pursuing any programme which may be geared to the production of nuclear weapons.”

Pakistan, in the 1970s, embarked upon the uranium enrichment route to acquire nuclear weapons. The country conducted nuclear tests in May 1998, shortly after India’s nuclear tests, declaring itself a nuclear weapon state.