Saudi Arabia closer than Iran to acquiring nukes, BBC reports

Saudi Arabia is able to obtain atomic bombs “at will” through a secret pact with Pakistan, and can acquire nuclear weapons far quicker than Iran, according to the BBC. On Wednesday, the British broadcaster’s flagship Newsnight television program cited “a senior decision maker” at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in claiming that Pakistan had already built nuclear weapons ordered by Saudi Arabia. The weapons, which include “finished warheads” that can be affixed on long-range missiles, “are now sitting ready for delivery” as soon as Riyadh asks for them, according to the BBC. The program’s producers spoke to an unnamed “senior Pakistani official” who allegedly confirmed in general terms the secret agreement between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The pact is said to require the Pakistanis to build and maintain a nuclear arsenal for use by the oil kingdom. Another Pakistani source, identified by Newsnight as “a one-time intelligence officer”, told the program that Pakistan maintained “a certain number of warheads” and that “if the Saudis were to ask for them at any given time they would immediately be transferred”. Newsnight’s diplomatic and defense editor, Mark Urban, wrote on the BBC website that Pakistan may already have transferred several Shaheen ballistic missiles to Saudi Arabia, in preparation for delivering nuclear warheads later on. This is not the first time such allegations have surfaced in public, though it is rare for Pakistani intelligence insiders to be quoted in such reports. Claims of a Saudi-Pakistani nuclear pact have been circulating in diplomatic circles since the mid-1990s, with some sources suggesting that the Saudis funded the Pakistani nuclear weapons program in exchange for access to nuclear warheads. Read more of this post

Jailed US spy gave Israel information on Pakistan nuclear program

Jonathan Jay PollardBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
An American intelligence analyst, who was jailed in 1987 for spying for Israel, gave his spy handlers information on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, according to declassified documents. Former United States Navy intelligence analyst Jonathan Jay Pollard is currently serving a life sentence for selling classified information to the Israeli government between 1985 and 1987. On December 14, the Central Intelligence Agency declassified its official damage assessment of Pollard’s espionage, who some counterintelligence officials believe was the most prolific mole that ever spied on the US government for a foreign country. This was the second time that the CIA declassified the document, titled The Jonathan Jay Pollard Espionage Case: A Damage Assessment, following an appeal by George Washington University’s National Security Archive. Even though this latest version of the declassified document is still heavily redacted, it contains some new information. One new revelation is that Pollard’s Israeli handlers specifically asked him to acquire intelligence collected by the US government on the Pakistani nuclear weapons program. In a section titled “Implications of Compromises: What Israel Gained from Pollard’s Espionage”, the CIA assessment states that Pollard focused on “Arab and Pakistani nuclear intelligence” and gave his Israeli handlers information on a secret Pakistani “plutonium reprocessing facility near Islamabad”. Further information in the declassified report about this subject is completely redacted. The question is, what kind of information on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program did Tel Aviv acquire from Pollard?  According to A.Q. Khan, the so-called father of the Pakistani nuclear bomb, Islamabad was able to detonate a nuclear device “within a week’s notice” by as early as 1984. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #554

Bat Khurts

Bat Khurts

►►UK and US tried to delay Pakistan nuclear weapons program. We have written before about attempts by the CIA to delay or stop Pakistan’s nuclear program. Now newly declassified documents show that the United States and Great Britain undertook a coordinated secret diplomatic campaign between 1978 and 1981 to prevent Pakistan’s attempted covert purchasing of “gray area” technology for its nuclear weapons program.
►►FBI monitoring new phone technologies. According to an internal FBI document, obtained by the Federation of American Scientists through a FOIA request, the FBI continuously monitors the surveillance challenges posed by new mobile phone technologies. The document highlights the Bureau’s concerns that that 4G will require agencies to “deal with significantly higher data rates than in current wireless network intercepts”.
►►Mongolian ex-spy chief to be extradited to Germany. Britain has decided to extradite Bat Khurts, former director of the General Intelligence Agency of Mongolia, to Germany. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0101

  • Red Army Faction member was on German spy service payroll. German media report that Verena Becker, a former member of the militant student organization Red Army Faction, who was arrested last week in connection with a murder committed thirty years ago, worked as an informant for the German secret services.
  • Pakistanis worried about US embassy expansion. In a rare article in the English-speaking press, The Washington Post examines the Pakistani population’s opposition to the planned expansion of the US embassy in Islamabad.
  • A.Q. Khan tells all about Pakistani nuclear program. Recently released from house arrest, the father of the Pakistani nuclear bomb has given an interview to a Pakistani television station, in which he reveals that Pakistan was able to detonate a nuclear device within a week’s notice in as early as 1984.

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Former spy chief reveals CIA operations against Pakistani nuclear program

Imtiaz Ahmad

Imtiaz Ahmad

This news is currently making headlines all over the Arabic and Muslim world, but is not reported on any US news site: retired Pakistani ISI officer and former Intelligence Bureau (IB) director, Imtiaz Ahmad (a.s. Ahmed), has said he was personally involved in foiling two CIA operations targeting Pakistan’s nuclear program. Speaking on Tuesday to Pakistan’s News International, Imtiaz revealed details about the ISI’s operation RISING SUN (1979), which involved the alleged unmasking of Rafiq Munshi, a US-trained Pakistani nuclear scientist, who Ahmed says was a CIA agent. The operation also resulted in the exposure of several undercover CIA agents, posing as diplomats, stationed in the US embassy in Islamabad and the consulate in Karachi. Read more of this post

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