US embassy cable - 98ISLAMABAD2617

PAKISTAN TESTS "GHAURI" MISSILE

Identifier: 98ISLAMABAD2617
Wikileaks: View 98ISLAMABAD2617 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Islamabad
Created: 1998-04-06 12:15:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PARM PREL PK
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 061215Z APR 98
FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5470
INFO AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 
AMCONSUL KARACHI 
AMCONSUL PESHAWAR 
AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 
AMEMBASSY BEIJING 
AMEMBASSY LONDON 
AMEMBASSY PARIS 
AMEMBASSY TASHKENT 
AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT 
AMEMBASSY ALMATY 
AMEMBASSY BISHKEK 
AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 
AMEMBASSY DHAKA 
AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 
AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 
USCINCCENT MACDILL AFB FL
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI//FPA J5//
SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
NSC WASHDC
AMCONSUL LAHORE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ISLAMABAD 002617 
 
 
C O R R E C T E D  COPY (PARAGRAPH MARKINGS) 
 
E.O. 12958:  DECL:  04/06/03 
TAGS: PARM, PREL, PK 
SUBJECT:  PAKISTAN TESTS "GHAURI" MISSILE 
 
1. (U)  CLASSIFIED BY CDA ALAN EASTHAM, 1.5D. 
 
2. (C)  SUMMARY:  FOREIGN SECRETARY SHAMSHAD AHMAD SUMMONED P-5 CHIEFS 
OF MISSION ON A HALF-HOUR'S NOTICE APRIL 6 TO INFORM US OF THE 
"SUCCESSFUL TEST" OF THE "INDIGENOUS" GHAURI MISSILE, WHICH HE SAID 
HAD A 1,500 KM RANGE FOR A 700 KG PAYLOAD.  HALF HIS PRESENTATION 
WAS ON THE MISSILE; THE OTHER HALF WAS AN INDIA-CENTRIC 
JUSTIFICATION FOR MISSILE TESTING.  CHARGE' OFFERED AN INFORMAL 
IMMEDIATE REACTION IN PRIVATE, NOTING THAT THE TEST WAS 
INCONSISTENT WITH THE SUGGESTION FOR RESTRAINT MADE IN THE 
SECRETARY OF STATE'S LETTER OF MARCH 20 TO THE PRIME MINISTER.  END 
SUMMARY. 
 
3.  (U)  FOREIGN SECRETARY SHAMSHAD AHMAD CALLED IN THE AMBASSADORS 
OF RUSSIA, U.K. AND FRANCE AND THE CHINESE AND AMERICAN CHARGES ON 
APRIL 6.  FOLLOWING IS A DIGEST OF HIS PRESENTATION: 
 
--  I HAVE ASKED YOU TO COME TO INFORM YOU THAT AS A PART OF 
PAKISTAN'S INTEGRATED MISSILE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM, 
TODAY WE HAVE SUCCESSFULLY FLIGHT-TESTED THE SURFACE-TO-SURFACE 
"GHAURI" MISSILE IN THE HATF SERIES.  (COMMENT: AN ACCOMPANYING 
PRESS RELEASE CALLS THIS MISSILE THE "HATF-FIVE" (ROMAN NUMERAL 
HATF-V). 
 
--  THIS MISSILE HAS A RANGE OF 1,500 KM AND A PAYLOAD OF 700KG. 
 
--  THIS TEST REPRESENTS A STEP FORWARD IN OUR INDIGENOUS MISSILE 
AND SATELLITE LAUNCH PROGRAMS.  WE HAVE ACHIEVED THIS INDIGENOUS 
CAPABILITY THROUGH THE COMMITMENT OF PAKISTANI SCIENTISTS AND 
ENGINEERS. 
 
--  WE DO NOT HAVE TO REFRESH YOUR MEMORY REGARDING INDIAN FLIGHT 
TESTS.  INDIA HAS CONDUCTED 16 TESTS OF THE PAKISTAN-SPECIFIC 
PRITHVI MISSILE AND HAS ALREADY DEPLOYED IT ALONG OUR BORDERS. 
INDIA HAS ALSO TESTED THE AGNI MISSILE FOUR TIMES. 
 
--  IN SPITE OF THE INDIAN PROVOCATIVE TESTS IN THEIR NUCLEAR AND 
BALLISTIC MISSILE PROGRAMS, WE HAVE EXERCISED EXTREME RESTRAINT. 
BUT WE CANNOT AFFORD TO BE COMPLACENT ABOUT PAKISTAN'S SECURITY. 
 
--  LET ME REITERATE THAT PAKISTAN WILL CONTINUE TO SHOW RESTRAINT. 
WE DO NOT WANT TO SPARK A NUCLEAR AND MISSILE ARMS RACE IN SOUTH 
ASIA. 
 
--  WE HAVE ALREADY MADE FORMAL PROPOSALS TO INDIA FOR MUTUAL AND 
EQUITABLE RESTRAINT IN THE NUCLEAR AND MISSILE AREA WITHOUT 
RECEIVING ANY RESPONSE.  WE ARE PREPARED TO ENTER INTO DISCUSSIONS 
WITH INDIA ON NUCLEAR AND BALLISTIC MISSILE ISSUES AS AN INTEGRAL 
PART OF OUR BILATERAL DIALOGUE, WHICH AS YOU KNOW REMAINS 
STALEMATED BECAUSE OF PROCEDURAL DIFFICULTIES. 
 
--  ON OUR PART WE ARE DOING OUR BEST TO OVERCOME THESE PROCEDURAL 
DIFFICULTIES;  WE HOPE WE WILL BE ABLE TO RESUME IN THE NEAR 
FUTURE. 
 
4.  (C)  THE BRITISH HIGH COMMISSIONER ASKED WHERE THE TEST HAD 
BEEN CARRIED OUT; THE FS SAID "IN PAKISTAN, ON LAND."  SUBSEQUENT 
QUESTIONS FROM THE GROUP REVOLVED AROUND THE DIALOGUE WITH INDIA, 
WITH THE FOREIGN SECRETARY OFFERING NOTHING NEW.  ACCOMPANYING 
PRESS RELEASE (FAXED TO SA/PAB) ADDS NOTHING TO WHAT IS REPORTED 
ABOVE. 
 
5.  (C)  FOLLOWING THE GROUP SESSION, THE FOREIGN SECRETARY ASKED 
TO SEE CHARGE' PRIVATELY TO DISCUSS ANOTHER MATTER.  IN HIS OFFICE, 
CHARGE' SAID THAT NEWS OF THIS TEST MAY BE TAKEN BADLY IN 
WASHINGTON, SINCE IT DIRECTLY CONTRADICTS THE SUGGESTIONS IN THE 
SECRETARY OF STATE'S LETTER OF MARCH 20 TO THE PRIME MINISTER.  THE 
U.S. BELIEVES THE DECISION TO TEST A NEW MISSILE COULD HAVE BEEN 
POSTPONED IN ORDER TO LET THE NEW INDIAN GOVERNMENT ESTABLISH 
ITSELF.  HOW THE NEW INDIAN GOVERNMENT WILL REACT IS UNPREDICTABLE. 
 
6. (C) THE FOREIGN SECRETARY RESPONDED BY REITERATING THE POINTS 
CITED ABOVE ON INDIAN TESTS, ADDING THAT "NO ONE EVER SAID 
ANYTHING" ABOUT INDIAN MISSILE TESTING. CHARGE' SAID THAT OF COURSE 
IT WAS UP TO PAKISTAN HOW PAKISTAN TOOK CARE OF ITS OWN SECURITY, 
BUT FROM HIS RECOLLECTION IT HAD BEEN SEVERAL YEARS SINCE THE 
INDIANS HAD COMPLETED THE "TECHNOLOGY DEMONSTRATION" PHASE OF AGNI 
TESTING.  THE DIFFICULTY OF MISSILE SYSTEMS WAS THEIR DESTABILIZING 
EFFECT IN TIMES OF TENSION.  ADDITIONAL SECRETARY TARIQ ALTAF 
QUICKLY ADDED THAT THE BJP PLATFORM CALLED FOR "INDUCTING" NUCLEAR 
WEAPONS TO INDIA'S FORCES, A POINT WHICH THE FOREIGN SECRETARY 
QUICKLY ENDORSED.  CHARGE' CLOSED THE SESSION BY SAYING THAT AS THE 
SECRETARY HAD SUGGESTED IN HER LETTER AND THE FOREIGN MINISTER HAD 
ACCEPTED IN HIS REPLY, THIS WOULD CERTAINLY BE A SUBJECT FOR 
DISCUSSION DURING THE VISIT OF AMBASSADORS RICHARDSON AND 
INDERFURTH AND MR. RIEDEL. 
 
7. (C) COMMENT:  WE BELIEVE THE DEPARTMENT SHOULD USE AMBASSADOR 
KHOKHAR'S CALL ON ASSISTANT SECRETARY INDERFURTH TODAY TO CONVEY 
MORE FORMAL REGRETS ABOUT PAKISTAN'S DECISION TO TEST THIS MISSILE, 
ESPECIALLY IN VIEW OF THE SECRETARY'S LETTER SPECIFICALLY 
REQUESTING RESTRAINT IN MISSILE TESTING.  (FYI, WE HAD A SUGGESTION 
FROM ANOTHER SENIOR PAKISTANI OVER THE WEEKEND THAT SOME AT LEAST 
THINK PAKISTAN DID EXERCISE RESTRAINT IN NOT TESTING BEFORE MARCH 
23 AND IN NOT DISPLAYING THE MISSILE THAT DAY DURING THE PAKISTAN 
DAY PARADE.) 
 
8. (C) NOTE ALSO THAT THIS IS DESCRIBED AS A "FLIGHT TEST," AND 
NOT/NOT AS INDUCTION OF THE MISSILE INTO PAKISTAN'S ARMED FORCES. 
THE PAKISTANIS VIEW THIS AS CATCHING UP TO THE INDIANS, 
SPECIFICALLY WITH REGARD TO AGNI, AND NOT AS LEAPFROGGING THEIR 
MISSILE CAPABILITIES.   THE TIMING IS CLEARLY RELATED TO THE 
ARRIVAL OF THE BJP GOVERNMENT IN INDIA AND EXTREME PAKISTANI 
NERVOUSNESS ABOUT BJP PRONOUNCEMENTS IN THE NUCLEAR AREA, 
SPECIFICALLY THE DECLARATIONS OF THE INTENTION TO "INDUCT" NUCLEAR 
WEAPONS.  THE PAKISTANIS DECIDED TO LAY DOWN A FIRM MARKER BOTH TO 
THE INDIANS AND THE PAKISTANI PUBLIC THAT PAKISTANI CAPABILITIES IN 
THIS FIELD ARE NOT INSIGNIFICANT.  THIS TEST WILL PRESENT THE BJP- 
LED GOVERNMENT IN INDIA WITH A SIGNIFICANT CHALLENGE IN THE 
SECURITY FIELD AT THE MOMENT IT IS ESTABLISHING ITSELF IN DELHI. 
 
 
EASTHAM 

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