FT claims existence of informal Saudi-Pak nuclear understanding

Saudi Arab

RIYADH: US Secretary of State, John Kerry has allayed concerns of Gulf leaders over a nuclear deal with Iran, reported British daily ‘Financial Times’.

Pakistani premier, Nawaz Sharif who is also present in Riyadh will hold important meetings with the new Saudi King. The Pakistani premier’s visit is being viewed with interest by the US and has fanned rumours that if Saudi Arabia ever requires access to nuclear technology, an informal understanding is in place with Pakistan to help transfer the technology to the Saudi Kingdom.

Former CIA official Bruce Riedel has alleged that Islamabad is rife with rumours about Saudi Arabia seeking assurances from Nawaz Sharif that Pakistan will continue its long term commitment towards ensuring the Kingdoms security regardless of what turn Pakistan’s relations with Iran take.

According to Simon Henderson, the regional expert at the US think-tank the Washington Institute, Netanyahu’s outright criticism and Nawaz Sharif’s visit to the kingdom should be viewed as indirect messages by Saudi Arabia.

According to the ‘Financial Times’, there are also concerns in the US over Saudi Arabia’s recent deal with South Korea for two nuclear reactors.

The paper adds, that Kerry’s visit to the kingdom to allay concerns and reaffirm US commitment towards regional security comes in light of growing concerns by Gulf leaders over America’s negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. Kerry arrived in the kingdom directly from Switzerland where the negotiations with Iran were held. His visit also comes two days after Netanyahu’s critical address before the US Congress in which he stressed in US legislators to oppose any nuclear deal with Tehran.

While America’s allies in the Gulf have not expressed their reservations publicly, they are concerned over Iran’s growing influence.

During his visit, John Kerry held individual meetings with Saudi King, Shah Salman as well as the Gulf Cooperation Council’s foreign ministers, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal and the Deputy Crown Prince Muhammed bin Nayef.

Henderson adds, if the Gulf states had no reservations Kerry would not have called on them, but the signals clearly indicate that they are unhappy with the negotiations with Iran.

He warned, that while America is facing criticism over its nuclear diplomacy policy it is also likely to fuel an arms race in the Middle East.