• Saudi Arabia looking at off-the-shelf weapons
  • American defence official says there has been a long-standing agreement in place

Saudi Arabia has “taken the strategic decision to acquire off-the-shelf atomic weapons from Pakistan”, according to a report in British newspaper the Sunday Times on 17 May.

Although reports have not been confirmed by Riyadh or Islamabad, it is understood that Saudi Arabia is looking to bulk up its military capacity in light of nuclear talks between Iran and the US.

The report quotes a former American defence official who says: “There has been a long-standing agreement in place with the Pakistanis, and the House of Saud has now made the strategic decision to move forward.”

Saudi Arabia has financially supported Pakistan’s through subsidised oil sales over the past few years.

GCC governments have also been unsettled over recent months by increasing dialogue and cooperation between Tehran and Washington, which was closely involved in the framework deal on the Iranian nuclear programme announced on 2 April.

Adding to concerns within the GCC, this agreement has come about amid an increase in the influence of Shia-aligned groups with links to Tehran in Syria and Yemen.

The news of Riyadh amassing atomic weapons from Pakistan comes days after a GCC-US summit, which took place at Camp David, near Washington on 14-15 May.

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