Pakistan dismissed a report by British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on Thursday which claimed that Saudi Arabia had invested in Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme and could obtain the atom bomb at will.
BBC says various sources claim that Saudi Arabia’s investment in Pakistan’s nuclear programme meant that weapons made in Pakistan for the Saudis were ready to be delivered.
Reacting to the story, foreign ministry spokesperson Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry termed the report ‘baseless and mischievous’.
“Pakistan is a responsible nuclear weapons state with a robust command and control structure and comprehensive export controls. Pakistan supports objectives of non-proliferation as well as nuclear safety and security,” said a statement issued by the foreign ministry.
The spokesman insisted that as a responsible nuclear state, Pakistan was fully aware of its responsibilities.
Pakistan’s nuclear programme is purely for its own legitimate self defence and maintenance of a credible, minimum deterrence, he stressed.
Aizaz also drew the media’s attention to the joint statement by Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and President Barack Obama issued on October 24, which referred to President Obama’s appreciation of Pakistan’s constructive engagement with the Nuclear Security Summit process and its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency and other international forums.
At the same time, President Obama acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts to improve its strategic trade controls and enhance its engagement with multilateral export regime.
Prime Minister Sharif affirmed Pakistan’s support for the universal objectives of non-proliferation and disarmament. President Obama reiterated his confidence in Pakistan’s commitment and dedication to nuclear security and recognised that Pakistan is fully engaged with the international community on nuclear safety and security issues.
“There can be no better affirmation of the international community’s recognition of Pakistan’s commitment and adherence to the goals of non-proliferation,” the spokesman said.
The BBC report had claimed that Saudi officials had already in the past indicated that if Iran obtains the atom bomb the kingdom will get nuclear weapons. It added, that while the kingdom’s quest has often been set in the context of countering Iran’s atomic programme, it was now possible that the Saudis might be able to deploy such devices more quickly than Iran.
Although Saudi Arabia has denied such reports in the past, the latest resurgence of such rumours comes amid increasing regional tensions with Iran already under international scrutiny for high-level enriching of uranium.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 8th, 2013.