Analysts and diplomats are increasingly concerned that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations, responding to what they perceive as Western willingness to leave Iran’s nuclear program largely intact, may turn to Pakistan in order to purchase nuclear weapons off the shelf. Top global figures including President Barack Obama have been unequivocal that Iranian nuclear weapons acquisition would trigger a cascade of regional proliferation that would among other things shred global nonproliferation norms.
“We will not we will not countenance Iran getting a nuclear weapon. My policy is not containment. My policy is to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon, because if they get a nuclear weapon that could trigger an arms race in the region, it would undermine our non-proliferation goals, it could potentially fall into the hands of terrorists. And we’ve been in close consultation with all our allies, including Israel, in moving this strategy forward.
The BBC reported yesterday that Saudi Arabia may be moving to counter Iran’s progress toward building nuclear weapons by building its own arsenal with Pakistani help and assets. The piece cited a NATO official describing how “nuclear weapons made in Pakistan on behalf of Saudi Arabia [were] now sitting ready for delivery” and quoted Dr. Gary Samore, who until January 2013 was President Barack Obama’s point man on counter-proliferation:
“I do think that the Saudis believe that they have some understanding with Pakistan that, in extremis, they would have claim to acquire nuclear weapons from Pakistan.”
On a conference call hosted today by The Israel Project, David Albright, president of the U.S.-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), described the possibility that Pakistan may transfer nuclear weapons to Saudi Arabia as a “legitimate concern.”
[Photo: SyedNaqvi90 / Wiki Commons]