September 2, 2009: Markey Seeks Answers on Reports of Pakistan

In letter to Sec. of State, Markey asks if Pakistan violated Arms Export Control Act

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), founder of the House Bipartisan Task Force on Nonproliferation, today sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton requesting information on published reports that Pakistan may have illegally modified U.S.-exported Harpoon missiles to give them a land-attack capability.


“The nascent nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan is extraordinarily worrisome, as both countries appear to be increasing their ability to manufacture weapons,” Markey wrote in the letter. “If [recent media reports are] true, the modification of these missiles would be a violation of the Arms Export Control Act. In addition, this would be yet another provocative and destabilizing action which threatens the delicate relationship between India and Pakistan.”

 Rep. Markey has worked tirelessly to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons around the world, including in Pakistan and India.  In 2006, Rep. Markey introduced H.R. 5902 to stop the Bush administration from selling 36 advanced F-16 fighter jets and related weaponry to Pakistan unless that country halted its construction of new reactors for nuclear weapons production.  In addition, Rep. Markey led the fight against President Bush’s nuclear deal with India, which will allow that country to dramatically increase its atomic arsenal.

 

Full text of the letter can be found below:

 

 

September 2, 2009

 

The Honorable Hillary Clinton

Secretary

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street NW

Washington, DC 20520

 

Dear Secretary Clinton:

I write to you concerning recent press reports of a diplomatic protest from the United States to Pakistan regarding the illegal modification of U.S.-exported Harpoon missiles to confer an offensive, land-attack capability.  If true, the modification of these missiles would be a violation of the Arms Export Control Act.  In addition, this would be yet another provocative and destabilizing action which threatens the delicate relationship between India and Pakistan.

 

The nascent nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan is extraordinarily worrisome, as both countries appear to be increasing their ability to manufacture nuclear weapons.  It is for this reason that I opposed both the U.S.-India nuclear deal, which will allow India to free up extra domestic uranium for nuclear weapons production if it chooses, as well as the construction of new plutonium production reactors in Pakistan, which could increase the size of Islamabad’s nuclear arsenal. 

 

The United States must play a strong role to improve relations between these two nuclear-armed neighbors, and to discourage destabilizing actions.  Nothing will improve the stability on the subcontinent more than two nuclear arms control measures.  First, the United States should encourage both countries to abide by their current nuclear test moratoria and to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban.  Second, the United States should encourage both countries to halt the production of nuclear weapons-usable fissile material, pending the entry into force of a globally binding Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty.

 

At the same time, the United States must discourage the development of destabilizing offensive weaponry by either country, such as the alleged modification of Harpoon.  In order to understand the facts and circumstances surrounding Pakistan’s actions, I request that you provide answers to the following questions regarding this modification of Harpoon:

 

  • Did the United States government lodge a protest or otherwise communicate, either formally or informally, with the government of Pakistan regarding that country’s U.S.-exported Harpoon missiles?  If so, what was the content of that protest?
  • Has Pakistan, as reported, allowed American officials to inspect Pakistan’s Harpoon inventory to determine if modifications have been made?  If so, has that inspection taken place?  Were all of the Harpoon missiles exported by the United States to Pakistan inspected?  Were any modifications made to the missiles?
  • Does the Department of State believe that the Harpoon missiles in Pakistan’s inventory can be armed with nuclear warheads?  Does the Department of State believe that Pakistan has armed or intends to arm any of its Harpoon missiles with nuclear warheads?
  • Does the Department of State believe that Pakistan has violated its commitments under the harpoon export licenses?  What repercussions are stipulated by the Arms Export Control Act in such a case?

 

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.  If you require any further information from my office regarding this inquiry, please contact Will Huntington at (202) 225-2836.

 

 

                                                                        Sincerely,

 

                                                                        Edward J. Markey