The Times of India – Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have concluded a secret agreement on nuclear cooperation, UPI reported, quoting an unimpeachable source. “It will be vehemently denied by both countries,” added this ranking Pakistani source, described as “a knowledgeable insider” by Arnaud de Borchgrave, the editor-in-chief of UPI.
“But future events will confirm that Pakistan has agreed to provide Saudi Arabia with the wherewithal for a nuclear deterrent.”
In a lightning, hastily arranged, 26-hour “state visit” in Islamabad , Crown Prince Abdullah Abdulaziz, Saudi Arabia ‘s de facto ruler, flew across the Arabian Sea with an entourage of 200, including Foreign Minister Prince Saud and several cabinet ministers.
The pro-American Saudi Defence Minister Prince Sultan, who is next in line to succeed to the throne after Abdullah, was not part of the delegation.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf met Abdullah at the airport and saw him off Sunday night with a 21-gun salute.
In Washington, Mohammed Sadiq, Pakistan ‘s deputy chief of mission, said Monday the report about Pakistan and Saudi Arabia reaching agreement on nuclear cooperation was “totally wrong”.
“This is against our policy,” Sadiq told UPI.
“Pakistan would never proliferate its nuclear technology. It’s a very clear policy. This was not even discussed in the talks we held with the Saudis. It was not even on the agenda. It is out of the question.”
The Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington did not immediately comment on the report.
A joint Pakistani-Saudi communiqué posted on the embassy’s Web site concerning Abdullah’s visit to Islamabad mentioned only an agreement for “the maximum utilization of the existing economic potential of the two countries”. There was no mention of military cooperation, nuclear or conventional.
The CIA believes that Pakistan already exported nuclear know-how to North Korea in exchange for missile technology.
Last year, a Pakistani C-130 was spotted by satellite loading North Korean missiles at Pyongyang airport. Pakistan said this was a straight purchase for cash and denied a nuclear quid pro quo.
“Both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia ,” the Pakistani source explained, “see a world that is moving from non-proliferation to proliferation of nuclear weapons.”
Pakistan , under the late dictator Zia ul-Haq, decided to pursue the nuclear option following India ‘s first nuclear test in 1974. Pakistan ‘s nuclear arsenal is now estimated at between 35 and 60 weapons.
The Saudis have concluded that nothing will deter Iran from continuing its quest for nuclear weapons. Pakistan , on the other hand, is openly concerned about the recent armaments agreement between India , its nuclear rival, and Israel , a long-time nuclear power whose inventory is estimated at between 200 and 400 weapons.
Iran and India , located on either side of Pakistan , have also signed a strategic agreement whose aim is regarded with suspicion in Islamabad .
Pakistani Prime Minister Mir Zafrullah Jamali is scheduled to fly to Tehran later this week to sound out Iranian leaders on the reasons for the defence deal with New Delhi .
To counter what Pakistani and Saudi leaders regard as a multi-regional threats, they have decided quietly to move ahead with a two-way exchange – free or cheap oil for nuclear know-how and expertise.
Pakistani pilots have been employed as contract pilots for the Royal Saudi Air Force for the past 30 years.
Several hundred thousand Pakistani workers are employed by the Gulf states , both as skilled and unskilled workers, and their remittances are a hard currency boon for the Pakistani treasury.