Saudi Arabia was said to be planning to acquire nuclear weapons within weeks of Iran’s development of an atomic bomb. A British daily has asserted that Riyad was preparing for a nuclear crisis with Iran. Quoting Saudi sources, The Times of London said the Saudi leadership intended to launch a nuclear weapons program should Iran test an atomic bomb.
“Warheads would be purchased off the shelf from abroad, with work on a new ballistic missile platform getting under way to build an immediate deterrent,” the Times said.
In a report on Feb. 10, the newspaper, which has been used as a sounding board by the Saudi leadership, reported that the Gulf Cooperation Council kingdom was determined to match any Iranian nuclear weapons procurement. The Times said Riyad also planned to bolster any civilian nuclear program for such dual-use applications, including uranium enrichment. “There is no intention currently to pursue a unilateral military nuclear program but the dynamics will change immediately if the Iranians develop their own nuclear capability,” a senior Saudi source said. “Politically, it would be completely unacceptable to have Iran with a nuclear capability and not the kingdom.”
Already, Saudi Arabia’s Strategic Missile Force has been examining missile platforms to deliver any nuclear payload. The Times said Pakistan, a nuclear power, would be a likely supplier of ballistic missiles to Riyad. In 2010, the Saudi military modernized its missile command center in Riyad.
The British newspaper, citing Western diplomats, said Pakistan could supply nuclear warheads to Saudi Arabia within weeks of an Iranian test. Both countries have denied any such agreement. India, Saudis Draft Defense Roadmap India and Saudi Arabia have agreed to draft a roadmap for defense cooperation.
Officials said the two Asian powers would establish a joint panel that would recommend areas for military and defense cooperation. They said the roadmap would become the basis of a defense agreement signed later in 2012.
“Prince Salman and myself agreed to establish a joint committee to work out the details of our future defense cooperation, including the details of an agreement in the defense sector,” Indian Defense Minister AK Antony, referring to his Saudi counterpart, said.
Antony concluded the first Indian defense summit with Riyad on Feb. 14. Officials said the Indian and Saudi defense ministers discussed the prospect of joint training, exercises, exchange of visits and weapons sales.
Officials said New Dehli and Riyad were planning a series of military exercises, including naval maneuvers meant to enhance counter-piracy capabilities. They said Salman intended to visit New Dehli later in 2012 to expand defense cooperation.
“There will also be high-level visits from both sides,” Antony said. “I am also hopeful that the agreement on defense cooperation will also be signed at that time.”
The Indian defense minister also said Riyad would examine a proposal for joint industrial production. He said New Dehli was expanding its defense industry and Indian technical experts would visit the Gulf Arab kingdom to determine Saudi military requirements.
“The [proposed joint] committee will also explore the possibility of signing a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in hydrography, increased participation in training programs on both sides and examine the possibility of cooperation in defense industries,” an Indian government statement said on Feb. 15.