Covert Saudi Progress towards Nuke
US intelligence smells a rat but has failed so far to get a handle on the covert Saudi nuclear program, DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence sources report.
Those suspicions were brought out in the open by Edward Markey, D-Mass, chairman of the US House Select Committee on Energy Independence in an article published in the Wall Street Journal of June 10 captioned: Why is Bush Helping Saudi Arabia Build Nukes?
The US lawmaker went on to ask:
“What country is three times the size of Texas and has more than 300 days of blazing sun a year? What country has the world’s largest oil reserves resting beneath miles upon miles of sand? And what country is being given nuclear power, not solar, by President George W. Bush…? If you answered Saudi Arabia… you’re right.
“Last month (May)… Secretry of State Condoleezza Rice was in Saudi Arabia signing away… nuclear technology. Ms Rice volunteered the US to assist Saudi Arabia in developing nuclear reactors, training nuclear engineers and constructing nuclear infrastructure,” according to the article
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence and Gulf sources confirm that Congressman Markey’s suspicions were well-founded. They should be. If any part of US government knows the nuclear score, it is the energy department.
The Saudis are in fact running a clandestine nuclear arms program, our sources confirm, at facilities located in an enclosed and tightly-secured compound in the southern military town of Khamis Mushayt.
Nuclear contracts as the key to open the door for US intelligence
The town is the headquarters of the Southern Area Command and home to the Field Artillery and Infantry Schools and the King Khalid Air Base, a large installation that handles military air traffic in the region.
The Saudis have been so successful in keeping their nuclear activities under wraps that no Western intelligence agency is known to have penetrated the Khamis Mushayt compound or dredged up any solid data about them. All they have come up with so far are evaluations which indicate that the Saudis have made a lot more progress in their uranium enrichment projects than Washington would like to admit.
Markey started a hare by claiming they are building a weapon with American help. DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence sources say the picture is more complicated.
The contracts Rice signed with the Saudis were primarily aimed at gaining access to the Saudi program, possibly even the Khamis Mushayt compound, for American scientists to go in and discover what was going on there.
The US nuclear contracts were also calculated to bring about the employment of scores of American scientists and technicians in the kingdom’s various nuclear ventures. Their presence, it was estimated, would put a damper on possible Saudi efforts to go into surreptitious production of nuclear weapons without Washington finding out.
The Saudi princes appear to have tumbled to the motives behind the American nuclear assistance offer and are in no hurry to sign the new contracts.
Getting US intelligence behind the scenes of the Saudi nuclear program is expected to be one of the most urgent missions the next administration will have for US intelligence.