ON ARMS TRANSFER TO PAKISTAN (House of Representatives - March 21, 1996)

[Page: H2660]

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from New Jersey [Mr. Pallone] is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. PALLONE. Madam Speaker, I rise to express my strong opposition to the impending shipment of United States arms to Pakistan. The administration proposes shipping 368 million dollar's worth of conventional arms to Pakistan, despite the recent revelations that Pakistan received nuclear technology from China last year. While I have often come to well of the House to defend this administration's foreign policy, in this case I must express my complete opposition to the direction that we are going by in providing sophisticated and de-stabilizing weapons to Pakistan, a country that has repeatedly broken their assurances to us about their nuclear weapons development and acquisition intentions.

A provision in the Foreign Operations appropriations legislation that finally became law earlier this year would authorize the transfer of $368 million in sophisticated conventional weaponry, including three Navy P-3C antisubmarine aircraft, 28 Harpoon missiles, 360 AIM-9L missiles, and other Army and Air Force equipment. This provision, known as the Brown amendment, after its Senate sponsor, passed the Senate last year. Although the provision was never debated in the House, it carried in conference. I drafted a letter to the conferees, which was signed by 40 other Members from both sides of the aisle urging that this provision not be included in the bill. But, owing in large part to the support of the administration and the influence of the pro-Pakistan lobby, the provision was included in the bill and became law.

As far back as last summer, many of us in Congress--Democrats and Republicans, Members of both bodies--argued that providing these weapons to Pakistan was a bad idea, giving Pakistan's ongoing determinations to develop nuclear weapons, its involvement in arming, training, and financing terrorist movements and its often open hostility to Western interests. Last summer, it was reported that Pakistan received Chinese M-11 missiles, in direct violation of the Missile Technology Control Regime. These missiles are capable of carrying nuclear warheads, and can strike cities within a 275-mile radius. It was reported last year that Pakistan developed its nuclear weapons from a blueprint provided by the People's Republic of China, and Pakistan then gave this blueprint to Iran. Pakistan remains an unstable nation, where the military does not seem to be under strong civilian control, a country which supports the embargo of Israel and does not recognize the State of Israel.

Then came the revelations early this year, based on intelligence information, that Pakistan purchased 5,000 ring magnets from the People's Republic of China in late 1994 and early 1995. These ring magnets are used to enrich uranium, a key component for making nuclear weapons. This transfer, which Pakistan has repeatedly denied to the administration and the Congress, is a direct violation of the Glenn-Symington Amendment and the 1994 amendment to the Non-Proliferation Act. When the Senate and the Foreign Ops Conferees considered the Brown amendment, this information was not known. I believe that this information would most certainly have swung a few votes--had it been available.

By way of a little history: during the last decade, Pakistan was the third largest recipient of United States foreign military assistance. Pakistan asked for the help of the United States in becoming conventionally strong militarily and in exchange promised--promised--not to develop or obtain nuclear weapons. By 1985, United States intelligence had strong evidence that Pakistan was receiving United States arms while going back on its word about developing nuclear capability. As a form of leverage, the Congress in 1985 enacted the Pressler amendment, named for its Senate sponsor, requiring an annual Presidential certification that Pakistan does not have a nuclear device. In 1990, with overwhelming evidence of Pakistan's nuclear program, President Bush invoked the Pressler amendment. The United States essentially said: Yes, Pakistan has the bomb. Thus, all U.S. military assistance was ended--including weapons already contracted for and paid for but not delivered. Pakistani officials could not have been surprised, knowing these ramifications when they officially agreed to the enactment of the Pressler amendment in 1985. The only surprises may have been that they got caught and that the full penalty of the law was imposed.

It is important to recognize that Pakistan has not agreed to do anything in exchange for the release of the seized equipment. In 1993, President Clinton did offer to return all or some of the weapons in the pipeline if Pakistan would agree to cap its nuclear program. Pakistan rejected this offer. In fact, by receiving the ring magnets from China, Pakistan was continuing to act--in defiance of the United States--to further its nuclear ambitions.

Finally, the administration came up with a compromise: While 28 F-16 fighter jets would not be delivered to Pakistan--they already have 40 F-16's--the 368 million dollars' worth of equipment would be delivered with no strings attached. What we are doing, Mr. Speaker, is ending the ban on providing weapons to Pakistan, and receiving nothing in return. The delivery of these weapons comes just about a month before the general elections in India, Pakistan's neighbor. Tensions between these two South Asian nations remain high. Pakistan has fought three wars with India during the past 48 years. Clearly, India will see the delivery of these weapons as a slap in the face. The opposition BJP party in India, which has already gained in strength, is running on a platform promising a much harder line in terms of relations with Pakistan, relations with the United States, and India's own nuclear weapons development program. While this story may be buried on the back pages of American newspapers, I can guarantee you that the delivery of the United States weapons to Pakistan will be page 1 news in India--to the benefit of those forces in Indian society that oppose the recent move toward closer commercial and strategic cooperation between India and the United States. The United States has in the past few years become India's largest trading partner. Why are we jeopardizing this important new economic relationship?

Mr. Speaker, I have nothing against improved relations with Pakistan, but I believe this goal should be achieved through economic means. The Government of Pakistan devotes much too large of a share of its scarce resources to the military, to the detriment of the people. If the administration wants to engage Pakistan, let's engage them with more trade and support for democracy building institutions.

Nuclear nonproliferation is and should be a top U.S. foreign policy goal in this post-cold-war world. The Pressler amendment has been a pillar of America's nonproliferation efforts. We should not weaken this law with waivers or loopholes. Pakistan keeps giving us every reason to keep the Pressler amendment in force.

Mr. Speaker, I will be working with some of my colleagues to enact a resolution of disapproval for this weapons transfer, and I hope we can achieve broad, bipartisan support. Providing these weapons to Pakistan would be a grave error that would threaten the stability of South Asia, international nuclear nonproliferation and the interests and prestige of the United States.

[Page: H2661]