By Musa Khan Jalalzai
November 14, 2013
Saudi Arabia has not established any nuclear reactor on its soil but it has invested in Pakistan’s nuclear programme
Other countries’ investment in Pakistan’s nuclear programme and its weapons of mass destruction raised serious questions across the world that these weapons might fall into the wrong hands. The huge investment of the Saudi government in Pakistan’s nuclear weapons is not a new thing; Libya, United Arab Emirates, China contributed their share. Saudi Arabia, in the past, has been the subject of speculation regarding its nuclear weapons ambitions. Among the charges levelled against it is the possession of undeclared nuclear facilities. Saudi Arabia’s link with Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programme has long been the source of speculation that Pakistan might either station its nuclear forces on Saudi soil or provide a nuclear umbrella to the Wahabi state in return for oil supplies, or that the Saudis would purchase nuclear weapons from Pakistan. Saudi Arabia has stationed two brigades of the Pakistan military on its soil to prevent an Iranian invasion, while some 30,000 ex-soldiers of Pakistan are fighting in Bahrain and Yemen.
Saudi Arabia invested in Pakistan’s nuclear bomb and now it seems it wants to obtain the bomb. While the Saudis’ quest for these weapons has also been set in the context of countering Iran, it is now possible for the Sheikhs to obtain these weapons quicker than Iran. Iran wants to establish hegemony in the region and Saudi Arabia views Iran’s influence in the Middle East and Persian Gulf as a big threat. The Saudi investment in Pakistan’s nuclear bomb raised many questions. Facilities and capabilities that Saudi Arabia is known to possess would be insufficient for any military nuclear programme. Saudi Arabia has not established any nuclear reactor on its soil but it has invested in Pakistan’s nuclear programme.
Experts fear that Saudi Arabia may possibly provide these weapons to the Pakistani Taliban based in Syria or it may deploy these weapons on its borders because Saudi Arabia’s recent diplomatic ruction with the United States has been over the demand for stern military action against the Assad regime. The Saudis will not want to wait more to receive the Pakistani nuclear bomb because they have already paid for it. Libya and North Korea have already received their share.
Afghanistan could also demand its share as its uranium was used in building Pakistan’s nuclear bomb. Pakistan used Afghan uranium, brought secretly from the mountains of Kunar and Paktia province in the 1980s. Afghanistan can also demand its share in the ‘Muslim Ummah’ bomb, because when Pakistan exploded its nuclear bomb in the Chaghai region in Balochistan in 1998, it dumped nuclear waste inside Afghanistan, which caused dangerous diseases.
Since the 1980s, we read about the danger of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and its security in print and electronic media worldwide. Speculations about the recent terror attacks on Pakistan’s nuclear installations confused the international community about the safety and security of the country’s nuclear assets. No doubt, Pakistan has deployed more than 25,000 forces personnel on its 15 nuclear sites. However, recent terror attacks in various cities of Pakistan triggered concerns in the international community about the security of the country’s nuclear weapons.
This perception has wide ranging strategic, diplomatic, political and economic implications for Pakistan. Today’s precarious situation in Pakistan comes in a world where terror groups are actively seeking nuclear weapons. The Uighur Islamic Front has its eyes on Pakistan. The Taliban, al Qaeda and other sectarian groups want nuclear weapons. The Syrian rebels need weapons of mass destruction; Haqqani and Mullah Omar also need these weapons to be used in Afghanistan.
The continued ties of Deobandi, Barelvi, Ahle Hadith, Salafi groups and their sympathisers in the civilian and military leadership pose a considerable threat to the nuclear installations of the country. According to the recent report of the National Crisis Management Cell of the Interior Ministry, more than 400 sectarian and extremist groups operate alongside the Punjabi Taliban in southern Punjab. The Punjabi Taliban control dozens of villages in southern Punjab, and allegedly receive funds from the Punjab government. The Punjabi Taliban have established a strong network in the army and police forces.
As we have already discussed, the networks of extremist and terror groups in the country, the globalization of world industry and transport, containerisation of trade, diffusion of nuclear weapon technology and the availability of weapons of mass destruction present a big threat to world peace. Terrorist groups and, specifically, al Qaeda are planning to acquire these weapons and, with their ability and financial resources, they have designs to purchase, steal and make these weapons from fissile material.
The report, “Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission”, compiled by the Swedish government on a proposal from the United Nations, warns: “Acquiring weapons of mass destruction and usable materials directly from a sympathetic government would significantly simplify the requirement for the terrorists, obviating the need to defeat security systems protecting such materials. During the civil wars, violence or instability in a country like Pakistan, terror groups can gain control of fissile materials. Insurgent groups, like the Taliban, or sectarian groups can make a safe penetration with the cooperation of inside contacts. Even if such an insurrection were unsuccessful, however, nuclear sites could fall behind “enemy” lines, before fissile materials could be removed, permitting their transfer to terrorists or their allies.”
Musa Khan Jalalzai is the author of Punjabi Taliban