Troubling reports surfaced over the weekend that Saudi Arabia is actively lobbying its ally Pakistan to supply it with “off-the-shelf” atomic weapons, in response to a nuclear arms race with Iran and Israel.
“For the Saudis the moment has come,” a former U.S. defense official told a major UK 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.”
The former official said the U.S. did not have evidence that “any actual weaponry has been transferred yet,” but stated that “the Saudis mean what they say and they will do what they say.”
Saudi Arabia has been increasingly dis-cordial towards both friends and foes in recent months after new leadership was appointed in the coutry. It has stepped up its air campaign against Iran-sponsored Houthi rebels in Yemen and King Salman refused an invitation to attend a landmark summit hosted by President Obama last week.
Former Saudi intelligence head Prince Turki bin Faisal said that “whatever the Iranians have, we will have, too,” according to The New York Times.
Faisal also warned of the Iranian nuclear deal “opening the door to nuclear proliferation.”
The Saudi – Pakistan deal is longstanding, with the Arab nation supplying Pakistan discounted oil in exchange for ready-made nuclear weapons.
“Nuclear weapons programs are extremely expensive and there’s no question that a lot of the funding of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program was provided by Saudi Arabia,” said Lord David Owen, who served as England’s foreign secretary from 1977-1979..
“Given their close relations and close military links, it’s long been assumed that if the Saudis wanted, they would call in a commitment, moral or otherwise, for Pakistan to supply them immediately with nuclear warheads,” he added.