Pakistan had been preparing to launch nuclear weapons against India during the Kargil war, a former top White House official revealed on Wednesday. The United States’ Central Intelligence Agency had warned President Bill Clinton of the plans on July 4, 1999, ahead of a meeting between him and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the official said. Sharif had gone to the US to meet Clinton as a last-ditch measure, with Pakistan facing heavy casualties and imminent defeat in the war.

“The mood in the Oval office was grim,” said Bruce Reidel, an official on the White House’s National Security Council, who was among the few present at the Clinton-Sharif meeting. Reidel made the disclosures in an obituary for Sandy Berger, a former national security advisor to Clinton, who died on Wednesday, PTI reported. Reidel claims Clinton heard Sharif out, but asked the Pakistani troops to withdraw to prevent further escalations of the war. Pakistan lost the war soon after, and Sharif was ousted in a military coup, and sent to ten years of exile in Saudi Arabia.