China provided Pakistan with weapons grade uranium for two bombs in 1982, according to notes made by the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme, the Washington Post reported on Friday.
In written accounts cited by the newspaper, Abdul Qadeer Khan said China also supplied a blueprint for a simple bomb that significantly speeded Pakistan’s nuclear weapon programme.
Pakistan rejected the report as “baseless.”
“Pakistan strongly rejects the assertions in the article that is evidently timed to malign Pakistan and China,” a foreign ministry spokesman said.
The Post said the deliberate act of proliferation was the culmination of a secret nuclear deal struck in 1976 by Chinese leader Mao Zedong and Pakistan’s prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.
“Upon my personal request, the Chinese Minister ... had gifted us 50 kg of weapon-grade enriched uranium, enough for two weapons,” Khan wrote in what the Post said was a previously undisclosed 11-page narrative of the Pakistani bomb programme.
Khan prepared the narrative for Pakistani intelligence officers after his January 2004 detention for unauthorised nuclear commerce. He is still under house arrest.
In a separate account sent to his wife several months earlier, he wrote, “The Chinese gave us drawings of the nuclear weapon, gave us 50 kg enriched uranium.”
The Post said China has long denied helping any other nation acquire nuclear weapons, but that Khan’s accounts confirm the long-held conclusion of US intelligence that China provided such assistance.
US President Barack Obama is expected to raise nuclear proliferation issues with China when he visits Beijing on Tuesday.
Khan, the alleged mastermind of a nuclear proliferation network that stretched to Libya and possibly Iran, stated that top politicians and military officers were immersed in Pakistan’s foreign nuclear dealings, the Post said.
“The speed of our work and our achievements surprised our worst enemies and adversaries and the West stood helplessly by to see a Third World nation, unable even to produce bicycle chains or sewing needles, mastering the most advanced nuclear technology in the shortest possible span of time,” Khan boasts in the 11-page narrative.
The foreign ministry spokesman, however, slammed the report as an attempt to detract attention from India, Pakistan’s arch atomic rival, which like Pakistan is not signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.