Nukes for the Saudis are ready for delivery, Israeli intel chief tell the BBC; if so, a Middle East nuclear arms race may have begun.
Saudi Arabia helped finance the Pakistani nuclear weapons program and is confident Islamabad will give it atomic bombs – which could trigger a Middle Eastern nuclear arms race, the BBC reported on Wednesday. According to a NATO source, Pakistan actually has made bombs for Saudi Arabia and they are ready to go, the report said.
Experts say the kingdom has long aspired to achieve nuclear capacity of its own, in order to counter Iran’s atomic ambitions. Getting the bomb merely by tapping Pakistan for it could bring the unnerved kingdom, which is openly anxious about Washington’s warming ties with Iran, into the nuclear age even before its Muslim neighbor, they now suggest.
“They [Saudis] already paid for the bomb, they will go to Pakistan and bring what they need to bring,” former Israeli Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin said, according to the BBC.
Saudi Arabia hasn’t hidden its ambition, openly stating to the U.S. as early as 2009 that it would also seek capacity if “Iran crossed the threshold,” the BBC reported, adding that Saudi Arabia has had the missile technology to deliver warheads since the late 1980s. In May 2012, former senior U.S. diplomat Dennis Ross confirmed for the first time that Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah explicitly warned that if Iran obtains nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia would seek to do so as well.
Iran may not be the only target: Jane’s reported last summer that Saudi Arabia has missile launchers aimed at Israel too.
The state of Iran’s nuclear project is far from clear. Some sources, including the U.S.-base Institution for Science and International Security, think Tehran could be just weeks away from stockpiling enough enriched uranium to produce its first nuclear weapon, based on the amounts of enriched uranium that the Iranians have accumulated so far and on the number of fast centrifuges that have been installed recently.
The ISIS did not postulate on how long it would actually take to build a working bomb from that stockpile.
As for the perceived changes in Iran’s attitude towards the West, spearheaded by the newly-elected president Hassan Rohani, Israeli military sources do not believe they change Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
Washington meanwhile recently suggested that it believes building the bomb could take at least a year. In late October the White House urged Senate committee leaders to hold off on new sanctions, in order to give negotiation a chance.
View original HAARETZ publication at: http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/1.556742