Note 1976 Canadian angle near end of quote, then personal aspect:
Declassified: How India Tracked Pakistan’s Development of a Nuclear Device
Newly declassified documents reveal how New Delhi tracked Islamabad’s pursuit of a nuclear device.
Today, South Asia’s fragile nuclear peace risks insolvency, with both India and Pakistan armed with expansive nuclear arsenals. Moreover, given their mutual rivalry, the prospect of limited nuclear exchange continues to loom large in the region. India’s deterrent strategy accounts for a two-front nuclear exchange with both China and Pakistan. How Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine merges into its strategic identity remains an open question. When Kenneth Waltz wrote of the “spread” of nuclear weapons rather than their “proliferation” in 1981, Pakistan was yet to count itself among nuclear weapon states.
Making deterrence work amid nation-state rivalry counts on the ability of the respective intelligence communities of nuclear states to constantly attenuate uncertainty about their rival’s present as well as prospective nuclear arsenal and doctrine. Today, both India and Pakistan continue to deploy considerable intelligence resources to track the other’s nuclear arsenal.
India, for instance, has taken a keen interest in Pakistan’s pursuit of a nuclear device going back to the 1970s and even earlier. Based on newly declassified Indian documentation I was able to access, what follows is an account of what Indian external intelligence knew about Pakistan’s intentions between the 1970s leading up to the 1990s – the decade that would end with both countries coming out as the world’s sixth and seventh declared nuclear powers.
For Indian intelligence in the 1970s, the focus in Pakistan was about its reprocessing capacity and centrifuges. This shifted in the 1980s to focus on the capability to produce an explosive device, and, finally, in the 1990s, focused on the nascent Pakistani missile program routed through China, which was eventually outsourced by China to North Korea.
Soon after the 1998 tests by both countries, Indian intelligence was looking at supply chains for Pakistan’s Shaheen-II ballistic missile, almost four years ahead of its first test in 2004.There was already specific knowledge available with India on Shaheen-I, including on the hardware that was involved in steering the missile. Additionally, New Delhi was not entirely convinced that Pakistan would not use choose to use non-nuclear chemical warheads for its missiles
The trail of documents begins with a Joint Intelligence Committee Report (dated February 24, 1976) titled “Pakistan’s Capability to Produce Nuclear Weapons.” This paper was an update to a JIC Paper from March 1975. It assessed that in absence of assistance for plutonium-239 or uranium-235, “Pakistan could not be in a position to explode a nuclear device at least for four years from now.” Further, the report noted that all was not well with Karachi Nuclear Power Plant. It had developed faults due to “leakage in boiler flow down valve which resulted in reactor poisoning.” It was shut down six times in 1975 with the largest one in mid-1975 when Canadian experts were recruited to repair the leakage of heavy water from the heat exchanger.
Moreover, in 1976, diplomatic cables from the Indian Embassy in Ottawa reveal that India was becoming aware of Chinese scientists’ presence in Pakistan. A Hungarian diplomat informed an Indian diplomat in Ottawa that the Canadian government was aware that Chinese scientists were being given access to facilities with Canadian material in Pakistan, despite the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP-I) coming under IAEA safeguards.
Pakistan was also sharing Canadian technical knowledge with the Chinese in return for military supplies [emphasis added]. Henry Kissinger, then-U.S. secretary of state, had visited Pakistan in 1976, where he was attempting to forge Afghan-Pakistan rapprochement following the visit of Prime Minister Bhutto to Kabul. Kissinger’s secondary agenda was to probe the France-Pakistan nuclear agreement. According to briefings received by Indian officials in Washington, Kissinger and Bhutto agreed that on the nuclear issue, “both sides will avoid confrontation.”
By September 1977, India’s external intelligence Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) had begun to report on Pakistan’s plans in detail, issuing a report called “Pakistan — Clandestine Purchase of Nuclear Equipment and Materials.” Pakistan’s Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) had set up a purchasing channel in Bonn, Germany, and Abdul Waheed, a cousin of General Zia-ul-Haq, oversaw the funds for these clandestine contracts. $11 million was already spent by Pakistan in Western Europe on plutonium technology, including the purchase of a “shearer” for use in its reprocessing facility...
In 1976 I was a very junior Canadian diplomat in Islamabad, not directly involved in covering Pak nuke intentions which were a serious concern. One night I got a French embassy colleague, much into his cups, to say that the French government "at the highest level" had decided to give Pakistan the bomb.
The next day, thinking this was hot poop, I told my ambassador what had happened. He did not consider it worth reporting to Ottawa. A few years later, when back in Ottawa, some people at ExtAff did show some interest.