Pak­istan will not give Saudi Ara­bia the Bomb

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL - Muham­mad Umar

IN 2013, it was un­cer­tain whether Iran would suc­cumb to Western duress and give up its nu­clear weapons pro­gram or con­tinue de­vel­op­ing a de­ter­rent to ad­dress its se­cu­rity con­cerns in the Middle East. The sit­u­a­tion was so crit­i­cal that Is­rael and Saudi Ara­bia threat­ened to bomb Iran's nu­clear sites, if the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity failed to stop the Ira­nian pro­gram from mov­ing for­ward.

In this en­vi­ron­ment of un­cer­tainty in the Middle East, Mark Ur­ban of the BBC wrote a ridicu­lous ar­ti­cle claim­ing that Pak­istan was ready to sell or give nu­clear weapons to Saudi Ara­bia if Iran de­vel­oped nu­clear weapons. His claims were based on en­tirely fic­ti­tious in­for­ma­tion.

The fact was that the Saudi's had not asked Pak­istan for any kind of co­op­er­a­tion in re­gards to nu­clear weapons. They did not ask Pak­istan to sell them a bomb or to help them build a bomb. Heck, they did not even ask Pak­istan to of­fer them ex­tended nu­clear de­ter­rence.

Pak­istan's For­eign Sec­re­tary, on many oc­ca­sions while ad­dress­ing the me­dia, has clearly stated that the sole pur­pose of Pak­istan's nu­clear weapons is to de­ter In­dian nu­clear ag­gres­sion, noth­ing else. Pak­istan would never give or sell its nu­clear weapons to any­one. Sim­i­larly, even Saudi Ara­bia's For­eign Min­is­ter de­nied the false BBC story.

The only coun­try Saudi Ara­bia sought help from was the United States. The Saudi's had de­manded that Pres­i­dent Obama prom­ise them pro­tec­tion un­der Amer­ica's ex­tended nu­clear de­ter­rence pol­icy, in the same way the Amer­i­cans pro- tect their al­lies in Western Europe and East Asia. By ask­ing for guar­an­teed ex­tended nu­clear de­ter­rence, Saudi Ara­bia es­sen­tially in­sisted that the United States agree to use their nu­clear arse­nal to un­der­take the se­cu­rity of the Middle East­ern States against nu­clear black­mail, threat or ag­gres­sion from Iran. In May 2015, Pres­i­dent Obama called for a sum­mit at Camp David with his Arab al­lies and as­sured them that the US would pro­tect them against any Ira­nian nu­clear threat.. This as­sur­ance al­lowed the Amer­i­cans and five other ma­jor pow­ers to bro­ker a deal with Iran to freeze its weapons pro­gram.

De­spite th­ese de­vel­op­ments and the count­less times of­fi­cials in Pak­istan, Saudi Ara­bia, and even the United States have dis­missed the ini­tial claim made by BBC as mere ru­mor, the story keeps resur­fac­ing in the me­dia. It makes me feel like I am liv­ing in the twi­light zone.

Ap­par­ently flog­ging this dead horse pro­vides good di­ver­sion from the ac­tual prob­lems in the Middle East and else­where. It is worth not­ing that Pak­istan and Iran also en­joy good re­la­tions as neigh­bors. For this rea­son Pak­istan would never take sides, if a con­flict ever arose be­tween the Ira­ni­ans and the Saudis, in­stead it would try to me­di­ate be­tween the es­tranged brothers. Is­lam­abad did ex­actly that a few months ago when the con­flict be­tween Iran and Saudi Ara­bia in Ye­men erupted into a full-scale war.

Pak­istan would never of­fer Saudi Ara­bia nu­clear weapons, be­cause of the political, strate­gic, and nor­ma­tive con­se­quences. Saudi Ara­bia would never want to ob­tain nu­clear weapons be­cause it is a party to the Non­pro­lif­er­a­tion Treaty and is treaty-bound not to ac­quire nu­clear weapons. The costs of vi­o­lat­ing the treaty far out­weigh any po­ten­tial gains.

If they were to seek Pak­istan's help in de­vel­op­ing their own weapons pro­gram, it would jeop­ar­dize their plan to build 16 nu­clear re­ac­tors with Amer­i­can help. The US has made it very clear that it will only help those coun­tries ac­quire nu­clear tech­nol­ogy for peace­ful pur­poses that abide by the NPT and In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency re­quire­ments. In­dia has been the only ex­cep­tion to the rule as Amer­ica des­per­ately tries to en­act a plan to use In­dia to con­tain China's growth and in­flu­ence in South Asia. For this rea­son the United States has pro­lif­er­ated nu­clear tech­nol­ogy to In­dia and cre­ated dan­ger­ous prece­dence that more than twelve other cham­pi­ons of non-pro­lif­er­a­tion now shame­lessly fol­low.

Pak­istan knows that if it were to help Saudi Ara­bia de­velop a nu­clear weapons, it would desta­bi­lize the Middle East, which is some­thing it is not in fa­vor of see­ing hap­pen. There­fore, Pak­istan would never de­ploy nu­clear weapons to Saudi Ara­bia, nor would it ever help them ac­quire the tech­nol­ogy re­quired to build their own bomb.

Is­rael has shown its clear con­tempt for the Amer­i­can led and in­ter­na­tion­ally bro­kered deal with Iran, and that seems to have led Is­rael on a cam­paign of man­i­fest­ing a fic­tional Saudi-Pak­istan nu­clear co­op­er­a­tion deal, all in the hopes of re­vers­ing the Amer­i­can-Ira­nian dé­tente, at the cost of Pak­istan. In­ter­est­ingly, ev­ery­one seems to miss the ele­phant in the room. If Ken­neth Waltz, the father of ne­o­re­al­ism were to rise from his grave, he would ask why should we trust Is­rael with a bomb and not the States that it can tar­get. Waltz was the pro­po­nent of the idea that more nu­clear weapons pow­ers would be bet­ter - it bal­ances the ter­ror.

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