Islamabad, May 21: Amid reports that Saudi Arabia has taken a "strategic decision" to acquire "off-the-shelf" nuclear arms from close ally Pakistan, the government here today rejected as "baseless" any such move to sell atomic weapons.
Pakistan's Foreign Office spokesperson Qazi Khalillulah at a news briefing here said "Pakistan's nuclear programme was purely for its own legitimate self-defence and for maintaining a credible minimum deterrence".
The 'Sunday Times' of London had recently quoted unnamed senior US officials as saying that Saudi Arabia had "taken the 'strategic decision' to acquire 'off-the-shelf' atomic weapons from Pakistan".
"Pakistan's nuclear programme is meant for its security and there is a strong command and control system over it. Pakistan is aware of its responsibilities as a nuclear state," Khalillulah said, rejecting the 'Sunday Times' report about a nuclear deal between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Khalillulah pointed out that there has been an "entirely baseless and mischievous campaign in the international media about Pakistan's indigenous nuclear programme".
He said the story carried by the Sunday Times on Pakistan's nuclear programme appears to be part of that campaign and is "utterly unfounded". The spokesperson said Pakistan supports objectives of non-proliferation as well as nuclear safety and security.
He also said Pakistan is and will remain in touch with Saudi Arabia on the issue of the conflict in Yemen. "We have already expressed our concerns over shelling from Yemen on Najran in Saudi Arabia," he said.
The spokesperson said that about 15,000 Pakistanis were living in the area and Pakistan had asked Saudi authorities to ensure their security. Last month, Pakistan decided against its sending troops as requested by Saudi Arabia to support its forces fighting the Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen.