Thursday, October 23, 2003

Where there is smoke?

Major General Aharon Zeevi, the Israel Defense Force's senior intelligence officer, concurs that Saudi Arabia is trying to buy nuclear weapons from Pakistan:

A top Israeli intelligence official has charged that Saudi Arabia is pressing forward with a secret program to acquire nuclear-weapons technology from Pakistan, even as senior U.S. officials said yesterday they had seen "no information to substantiate" reports that a deal was in the works.


Such a deal would profoundly alter the balance of power in the Middle East, violate Saudi obligations under the nuclear NonProliferation Treaty, and break promises made to Washington by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf about controlling his country's nuclear arsenal.

Both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have strenuously denied the reports, with a Saudi Embassy spokesman dismissing the story yesterday as "not even worth a denial."

Talat Waseem, press counselor to the Pakistani Embassy, said in a letter to The Times there was "not a shred of truth" to the "wildly speculative story."


But Israeli radio and the New York Post reported yesterday that Maj. Gen. Aharon Zeevi, the Israel Defense Force's senior intelligence officer, told a parliamentary committee Tuesday that the Saudis had in fact gone to Islamabad with the intention of buying Pakistani warheads, to be placed on Saudi land-based missiles.

Gen. Zeevi said the Saudi drive for atomic weapons was motivated by the advanced nuclear program under way in Iran, its strategic and religious rival in the region. Saudi Arabia is predominantly Sunni Muslim while Iran has a Shi'ite Muslim majority.


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