Iranian and Pakistani warships had planned their first ever rendezvous to take place in Port Sudan Friday, Nov. 30. It was rumored in Khartoum that the Pakistani Shashmir had docked Thursday carrying nuclear arms or nuclear-related equipment ready to meet two Iranian warships for joint naval drills on the Red Sea.
The United States put a stop to this plan at the last moment by threatening to call off the direct talks with Tehran that were scheduled to open Saturday, Dec. 1.
The naval exercise would have seen Iran collaborating for the first time in military activity with a nuclear power that would take place, moreover, close to the shores of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel. Parading the two Muslim powers in military partnership – one a nuclear power and Iran on the threshold of attaining nuclear arms – was an attempt by Tehran to leverage its position as a regional power when facing Washington at the negotiating table.
Responding to persistent reports of nuclear arms aboard the Pakistani vessel, the Port Sudan Director Sheiba Mohamed Babikir issued the following statement on Dec. 1: “There is no risk to the lives of citizens who want to visit the ships as all weapons will be secured.”
According to DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources, Riyadh and Jerusalem warned the Obama administration separately last week that unless the Iranian-Pakistani maneuver was called off, action would be taken to prevent it, prompting Washington’s stiff message to Tehran that their nuclear talks were on the line unless it was cancelled.