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Pakistan denies reports Saudis funded nuclear program

Updated November 07, 2013

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Citing different sources, BBC Newsnight had reported that Saudis can obtain atomic bombs from Pakistan at will. – File Photo by Reuters
Citing different sources, BBC Newsnight had reported that Saudis can obtain atomic bombs from Pakistan at will. – File Photo by Reuters

Pakistan’s Foreign Office on Thursday strongly denied reports that Saudi Arabia funded the country’s nuclear weapons program calling the news item as “baseless, fake and provocative.”

Citing different sources, BBC Newsnight had reported that Saudi Arabia can obtain atomic bombs from Pakistan 'at will.'

Speaking to BBC Urdu, Foreign Office Spokesman Aizaz Chaudhry said that Pakistan is a responsible nuclear power.

The country has a robust control system for its nuclear weapons and also had taken extensive protection measures for ensuring their security, the spokesman said.

He also said the country’s nuclear program is at par with the international standards and in compliance with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Pakistan has been disposing off the west’s reservations regarding safety of the country’s nuclear assets, stressing that these were in safe hands.

Referring to his conversation with an unnamed Nato official earlier this year, diplomatic and defence editor of Newsnight Mark Urban said the official had seen such covert reports which point to a deal between Saudis and Pakistan.

According to those reports, he said, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are ready to be delivered to Saudi Arabia.

A press conference by former Israeli military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin was also highlighted in the report. Yadlin had told the media that Saudis will not even wait for a month in acquiring the atomic bomb in case Iran succeeds in making one. He said Pakistan had already been paid by the Saudis in that regard.

However, Gary Samore, former advisor to US President Barrack Obama on counter-proliferation, ruled out the notion, saying Pakistanis and Saudis did not have that kind of an understanding between them.

Riyadh has long had an interest in Islamabad’s nuclear programme. In 1999, then Saudi Defence Minister Prince Sultan was welcomed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to the Kahuta plant, where Pakistan produces highly enriched uranium.

After being overthrown by the military later the same year, Sharif is now back again as prime minister – after spending years in exile in Saudi Arabia.

US officials had been suspicious of Saudi intent to gain nuclear warhead from Pakistan after it bought long-range CSS-2 ballistic missiles from China.