Richard Barlow, Nuclear Weapons and Pakistan

11.08.07 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The declaration of emergency rule in Pakistan has focused new concern on the status of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. It may also bring renewed attention to the case of Richard Barlow, the former intelligence officer who attempted to warn Congress two decades ago about Pakistan’s clandestine acquisition of U.S. nuclear technology and who was punished for his trouble.

In a classic whistleblower tale, Mr. Barlow’s security clearances were suspended, the state secrets privilege was invoked, and he was personally vilified after he attempted to notify Congress of irregularities and illegalities in Pakistan’s U.S. acquisitions program. Yet his allegations about Pakistani export control violations and official attempts to conceal those violations were ultimately corroborated.

A summary account of Mr. Barlow’s actions and experiences was presented in one of two pending amendments introduced by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) last summer to provide belated compensation for his losses.

Mr. Barlow’s story, and much else about the clandestine development of the Pakistani nuclear weapons program, is presented in a new book called “Deception: Pakistan, the United States, and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons” by Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark (Walker & Company, 2007).

The Congressional Research Service examined “Pakistan’s Political Crisis and State of Emergency” (pdf) in a new report dated November 6, 2007.

See also “Pakistan-U.S. Relations” (pdf), updated October 18, 2007, and “Direct Overt U.S. Aid to Pakistan, FY2001-FY2008” (pdf), November 8, 2007.

David Isenberg’s Nuclear Underground provides continuing coverage of the nuclear black market, all things related to A.Q. Khan, and the Richard Barlow story.

And see the latest account of the Richard Barlow case in Jeff Stein’s “The Nuclear Bombshell That Never Went Off,” CQ Homeland Security, October 19, 2007.