Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran: Nuclear Proliferation and Diplomacy of “Quid Pro Quo”.
It has been argued by many analysts and journalists that Pakistan did supply nuclear warheads to Saudi Arabia. Of course, Pakistan did give the Nuclear Reactor – albeit an old one – to Iran. An interesting article by Pervez Hoodbhoy. He is a Nuclear Scientist and has a Doctorate in Nuclear Science from MIT. He writes about the relationship between Pakistan and Iran, and Pakistan and Saudis, and the entire Nuclear dynamics.
On the other hand, Saudi Arabia’s footprint in Pakistan has grown steadily since the early 1970s. Pakistani leaders, political and military, frequently travel to the Kingdom to pay homage or seek refuge. The dependency on Saudi money grew. After India had tested its Bomb in May 1998 and Pakistan was mulling over the appropriate response, the Kingdom’s grant of 50,000 barrels of free oil a day helped Pakistan decide in favour of a tit-for-tat response and cushioned the impact of sanctions subsequently imposed by the US and Europe. The Saudi defence minister, Prince Sultan, was a VIP guest at Kahuta, where he toured its nuclear and missile facilities just before the tests. Years earlier Benazir Bhutto, the then serving prime minister, had been denied entry.
The quid pro quo for the Kingdom’s oil largesse has been soldiers, airmen, and military expertise. Saudi officers are trained at Pakistan’s national defence colleges. The Pakistan Air Force, with a high degree of professional training, helped create the Royal Saudi Air Force and Pakistani pilots flew combat missions against South Yemen in the 1970s. Saudi Arabia is said to have purchased ballistic missiles produced in Pakistan.
The highlighted lines are of great interest. It underscores the relationship between the two.
But even more disturbing are the two paras below, which show the seriousness of the Saudis to get the Nukes.
The Kingdom’s first steps towards making nuclear weapons are being contemplated. In June 2011, it said that 16 nuclear reactors were to be built over the next 20 years at a cost of more than $300 billion, each reactor costing around $7 billion. Arrangements are being made to offer the project for international bidding and the winning company should “satisfy the Kingdom’s needs for modern technology”. To create, run and maintain the resulting nuclear infrastructure will require importing large numbers of technical workers. Some will be brought over from western countries, as well as Russia and former Soviet Union countries.
But Saudi Arabia will likely find engineering and scientific skills from Pakistan particularly desirable. Since many are Sunni Muslims, the Pakistanis would presumably be sympathetic with the Kingdom’s larger goals. Having been in the business of producing nuclear weapons for nearly 30 years under difficult circumstances, they would also be familiar with supplier chains for hard-to-get items needed in a weapons programme. And because salaries in Saudi Arabia far exceed those in Pakistan, many qualified people could well ask for leave from their parent institutions at the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, Kahuta Research Laboratories, and National Development Complex.