SAUDI ARABIA has taken the “strategic decision” to acquire “off-the-shelf” atomic weapons from Pakistan, risking a new arms race in the Middle East, according to senior American officials.
The move by the Gulf kingdom, which has financed much of Islamabad’s nuclear programme over the past three decades, comes amid growing anger among Sunni Arab states over a deal backed by President Barack Obama, which they fear could allow their arch foe, Shi’ite Iran, to develop a nuclear bomb.
The agreement, which is due to be finalised by the end of next month and involves the permanent members of the UN security council and Germany, is designed to roll back part of Tehran’s nuclear programme in return for an easing of UN sanctions.
At the prospect of the international community’s nuclear deal with Iran, Saudi Arabia has reportedly taken a decision to call in an old favor from Pakistan and get some of its nuclear weapons.
Saudi Arabia is widely believed to have bankrolled the Pakistani nuclear weapons program. In exchange, Riyadh reportedly expects Islamabad to provide missiles in times of trouble to defend the kingdom.
“For the Saudis the moment has come,” a former American defense official told The Sunday Times newspaper. “There has been a longstanding agreement in place with the Pakistanis, and the House of Saud has now made the strategic decision to move forward.”
According to the report, no actual transfer of weapons has taken place yet, but “the Saudis mean what they say and they will do what they say,” the source reportedly said.
The report comes a month ahead of a meeting between Tehran and the P5+1 group to finalize a deal, which would lift sanctions from Iran in exchange for making its nuclear program more transparent and restricted. Key US allies in the Middle East, Israel and Saudi Arabia, are objecting to the deal, saying it would ultimately allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.
Reports of Saudi Arabia getting nukes aren’t new. In November 2013, BBC’s Newsnight reported on the alleged nuclear sharing agreement between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
The program cited Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence, telling a conference in Sweden that if Iran got the bomb, “the Saudis will not wait one month. They already paid for the bomb, they will go to Pakistan and bring what they need to bring.”
The speculation came just as nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 were showing progress in Geneva.
thats just what we need..
“There has been a longstanding agreement in place with the Pakistanis, and the House of Saud has now made the strategic decision to move forward.”
a cynic would say thats why pakistan was allowed to build up its nuclear capability..
“the Saudis will not wait one month. They already paid for the bomb, they will go to Pakistan and bring what they need to bring.”