Pakistan Has Little to Gain by Giving Saudi Arabia Nuclear Arms: Experts

Regardless of what Saudi Arabia might wish, Pakistan is unlikely to provide the Arab kingdom with nuclear weapons or technology, Defense News reported on Monday, citing interviews with a number of issue experts.

Long-running rumors of a possible implicit bilateral nuclear understanding under which Islamabad would supply Riyadh with nuclear arms if requested resurfaced last week with a BBC report on the matter. It featured interviews with former senior Obama administration members and ex-Pakistani officials. The Pakistani government has strongly denied the report.

Top Saudi officials for years have threatened that if Iran acquires a nuclear weapons capability, their country could follow suit.

Former U.S. State Department official Mark Fitzpatrick said it is possible Riyadh believes its years of financial munificence to Pakistan's military has earned it a "chit to cash in" for a nuclear deterrent.

That does not mean, though, that Islamabad would provide Saudi Arabia with the weapons if asked.

Shashank Joshi, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, said "the U.S. would react firmly" to any nuclear weapons transfer and "Pakistan would likely face severe sanctions, pressure from the U.N. Security Council, and further global isolation."

"Saudi Arabia would be harder to sanction, given its importance in world oil markets, but it could face a cut-off of American aid," Joshi said.

Mansoor Ahmed, of the Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, said Pakistan is unlikely to want to give up its "privileged status" of being "the only Muslim de-facto nuclear weapon state."

Additionally, Islamabad has traditionally stayed out of the Iran-Saudi Arabia geopolitical competition, said Ahmed, an expert in Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. Pakistan is a Sunni-majority country but its sizable minority population of Shiite Muslims plus a lengthy border with Iran would discourage it from getting involved in the regional rivalry.

November 12, 2013
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Regardless of what Saudi Arabia might wish, Pakistan is unlikely to provide the Arab kingdom with nuclear weapons or technology, Defense News reported on Monday, citing interviews with a number of issue experts.