U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Pakistan has deployed nuclear-capable Chinese M-11 missiles and that the transfer was part of a conspiracy to skirt missile-control agreements.
The declaration, contained in interagency intelligence reports produced last month, confirms for the first time that Pakistan now has a strategic nuclear delivery capability. The finding is expected to trigger U.S. economic sanctions against both Pakistan and China based on a 1990 law.
State Department officials, however, are trying to block the intelligence judgment through bureaucratic maneuvering to avoid imposing sanctions, according to intelligence sources familiar with the effort.
The intelligence sources disclosed to The Washington Times that a report that Pakistan has operational Chinese M-11 missiles was discussed last month by the Weapons and Space Systems Intelligence Committee. The committee is an interagency panel of intelligence experts who evaluate missile developments worldwide. The report was based on sensitive CIA data.
A separate "statement of fact" also was drafted last month declaring that China and Pakistan took part in a "conspiracy to transfer M-11s," according to an intelligence document obtained by The Times.
U.S. officials said the statement is the first step in an intelligence reporting process that will lead to the imposition of economic penalties on China and Pakistan. When completed, the statement will be sent by CIA Director John Deutch to the State Department for action - sanctions on high-technology goods or a waiver issued by the president.
The sources identified State Department intelligence official Allen W. Locke, chief of the missiles and space division, as the key official who is working to water down reports declaring the M-11s operational and the missile transfer a conspiracy under a 1990 anti-proliferation law. The reports were done by the CIA and National Intelligence Council (NIC), an analysis arm under Mr. Deutch, according to the sources.
Mr. Locke also has sought help from NIC Chairman Richard Cooper in seeking to alter language in a separate special intelligence report that concludes the M-11s are operational, according to sources familiar with the effort.
Previous intelligence was unable to confirm the presence of assembled missiles, although M-11 components were spotted in Pakistan three years ago.
China's delivery of the weapons violates the 31-nation Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), as well as a 1994 U.S.-China agreement not to deploy M-11s in Pakistan.
CIA and State Department spokesmen would not comment on the intelligence findings. A Chinese Embassy spokesman also declined to comment.
A Pakistani Embassy spokesman denied that any M-11s are operational in his country or that any were bought from China.
The M-11 finding highlights China's active role in arms-proliferation activities and comes after the recent administration decision not to impose economic sanctions on China for selling nuclear-weapons technology to Pakistan.
The administration announced last month it would not impose sanctions because it claimed senior Chinese officials were unaware of the sale last year of ring magnets - components used to produce nuclear-weapons fuel - to Pakistan.
William C. Triplett, a specialist on China, said the M-11 deployment, when coupled with the sale of nuclear-arms technology, is a major boost in Pakistan's drive for a strategic nuclear capability and will increase tensions in the volatile region. …