Move further raises questions about Iran's atomic intentions
If you believe Iran’s line that their nuclear research and development is strictly for peaceful purposes, a report that Saudi Arabia is now seeking a nuke should give you second thoughts.
The Sunday Times of London reported that the Saudis have held talks with another Islamic nuclear power, Pakistan, for the purchase of nuclear weapons, according to a US senior official. The Kingdom, apparently, is taking no chances on Iran as the US and other Western nations appear ready to lift sanctions and allow the Islamic Republic to proceed with nuclear development:
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 involves the permanent members of the UN security council and Germany, is supposed to be finalized by the end of June, the Times notes.
Potentially caught in the middle between two new nuclear powers in the Middle East, of course, is Israel, and the Jerusalem Post reported the story this way:
Tensions in the region have escalated in light of the framework agreement the United States and the other world powers have made with the Islamic Republic, with Saudi Arabia increasingly concerned with the repercussions of a deal that may see the easing of sanctions leaving Iran more legroom to continue developing weapons of mass destruction.
"For the Saudis the moment has come," the Times quoted a former US defense official as saying. "There has been a long-standing agreement in place with the Pakistanis and the House of Saud has now made the strategic decision to move forward."
A military source told London paper that Saudi Arabia is skeptical that any final, comprehensive deal with Iran will curb its nuclear ambitions, and that the West’s engagement has "opened the door to nuclear proliferation."
The agreement allows Iran to keep 5,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges at Natanz, and another 1,000 centrifuges at its underground enrichment facility in Fordow.
There are concerns that Saudi Arabia joining the nuclear club might provoke Turkey and Egypt to follow suit.