Saudi Arabia denies buying nukes
ISLAMABAD: Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Ali Awaad Aseeri on Monday denied a report by Time magazine that the Kingdom was trying to buy nuclear weapons through AQ Khan’s network.
“The basic objective of this report is to tarnish the Kingdom’s image and frustrate its efforts at making the region free of weapons of mass destruction,” the ambassador told Okaz in a telephone interview. Aseeri said the Kingdom had been in the forefront of countries seeking to make the Mideast a nuclear arms-free region.
“Why would the Kingdom try to get this kind of weapon when it openly opposes the principle of possessing, manufacturing or proliferating weapons of mass destruction at the regional and international levels,” he asked. “The Kingdom has always been seeking world peace and security,” he added.
Meanwhile, Pakistan said on Wednesday that the case of nuclear scientist AQ Khan was still open, but it has received no new evidence to suggest that his black market network had sold technology to more countries than earlier thought.
Last February, President Gen Pervez Musharraf pardoned AQ Khan after he confessed to supplying sensitive technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea. But this week Time magazine reported that US officials were also investigating whether the scientist’s network might have supplied Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries, such as Egypt. On Wednesday, Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan said AQ Khan’s “case is still open”.
“We will quiz any of our scientists if somebody comes up with evidence to prove his links with the proliferators of nuclear technology,” the spokesman said. But he said the government had “received no new evidence from any country, individual or organisation, including the IAEA” – referring to the UN nuclear watchdog, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency.
AQ Khan, who was once regarded as a national hero for his role in making Pakistan a nuclear power, has lived under virtual house arrest in Islamabad for the past year.
On Monday, Pakistan denied that AQ Khan’s network was still operating. agencies