Forbes magazine reports on an article first published in the German magazine Cicero which asserts that the Pakistanis are helping the Saudis develop a nuclear capability under the cover of the Haj:
…during the Haj pilgrimages to Mecca in 2003 through 2005, Pakistani scientists posed as pilgrims to come to Saudi Arabia.
Between October 2004 and January 2005, some of them slipped off from pilgrimages, sometimes for up to three weeks, the report quoted German security expert Udo Ulfkotte as saying.
According to Western security services, the magazine added, Saudi scientists have been working since the mid-1990s in Pakistan, a nuclear power since 1998.
Cicero, which will appear on newstands tomorrow, also quoted a US military analyst, John Pike, as saying that Saudi bar codes can be found on half of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons ‘because it is Saudi Arabia which ultimately co-financed the Pakistani atomic nuclear program…’ [Link]
If this is true then it is a total slap in the face of the U.S., and the assurances that we supposedly have (right?) about Khan’s network being shut down is all bulls*it. Allowing a nation like Saudi Arabia any sort of nuclear capability is crazy, especially if you think that the monarchy there is doomed to failure and that a militant uprising is just a matter of time. Also, it’s not like they have an un-met energy demand.
The magazine also said satellite images indicate that Saudi Arabia has set up a program in Al-Sulaiyil, south of Riyadh, a secret underground city and dozens of underground silos for missiles. [Link]
We’ll have to keep an eye on this to see if any other news organizations follow-up on the German assertions.
Update: Pakistan rejects accusations. See below the fold.
Pakistan today rejected as “fabricated” a German magazine report that said Saudi Arabia was working secretly on a nuclear programme with help from Pakistani experts.
“It is a fabricated story and motivated by vicious intentions,” foreign office spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said.
Citing western security sources, German magazine Cicero in its latest edition, says that during the Haj pilgrimages to Mecca in 2003 through 2005, Pakistani scientists posed as pilgrims to come to Saudi Arabia in aircraft sponsored by the oil-rich kingdom. [Link]