Days after a report surfaced which claimed Saudi Arabia wanted to buy nuclear weapons from Pakistan, a defence official of the Kingdom dismissed it as mere “speculation” on Tuesday, CNN reported.
The Sunday Times of London had published a report which claimed that Saudi Arabia had “taken the ‘strategic decision’ to acquire ‘off-the-shelf’ atomic weapons from Pakistan,” citing unnamed American officials, in a bid to counter Iran after the recent nuclear deal it reached with the West.
A Saudi Defence Ministry official however said that such reports were not new. “I don’t understand what the story is. This has been in the news for 18 years and will continue to be for the next 15 years.”
“The ministry does not comment on rumours and speculation,” the official added.
A US State Department official pointed out on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia was a signatory of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.
“It has committed never to acquire nuclear weapons, and to apply full international safeguards to all peaceful nuclear activities,” the official said. “We attach great importance to Saudi Arabia’s continued implementation of these commitments.”
The Sunday Times had claimed that the Saudi move follows bankrolling much of the Pakistani nuclear program for three decades and amid concerns over a framework deal on Iran’s nuclear program.
“We have consulted throughout the recent negotiations with our allies and partners around the world, including Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries, and will continue to do so as we move into the final weeks and months of these talks,” the State Department official said Tuesday.
Besides the concern from some Arab nations that the agreement may instead allow Iran wriggle room to develop a working nuke, the deal has been met with fierce opposition from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.