The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave the go-ahead to Israel’s top nuclear and security experts to collaborate with American negotiators to find a compromise that permits Saudi Arabia to enrich uranium.
According to officials from both nations, Israel is “quietly working” with the White House to create a “U.S.-run, uranium-enrichment operation” in Saudi Arabia for a civilian nuclear program, which is a crucial requirement for the kingdom to sign a normalization agreement with Israel.
Israeli support for the proposal, according to Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based think tank that opposes it, represents “a radical policy shift for a country that has opposed nuclear proliferation in the Middle East since inception.”
According to officials, US President Joe Biden has not yet given his approval for allowing uranium enrichment in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis could switch to China, which worries the United States.
A nuclear power station is being proposed for construction in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, close to the borders with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, by the state-owned China National Nuclear Corp.
The Journal stated in August that “Saudi officials acknowledged that looking into the matter with China was a way of pressuring the Biden administration to compromise on its nonproliferation requirements.”
In exchange for normalization, which Israel’s prime minister has described as a “quantum leap” that would “change Israel’s relationship with the rest of the Arab world,” Israel and the U.S. are willing to tolerate the hazards of a nuclear Saudi Arabia.
In a face-to-face meeting on Wednesday in New York, Netanyahu and Biden discussed openly the potential for an accord with Riyadh. “Mr. President, we can bring about a historic peace between Saudi Arabia and Israel.
And according to Netanyahu, who had previously hinted that a peace agreement with the Saudis was imminent, such a peace would significantly advance the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, achieve amity between the Islamic world and the Jewish state, and advance a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
“If you and I were talking about normalization with Saudi Arabia ten years ago, I think we’d be looking at each other like, ‘Who’s been drinking what?'” remarked Biden.'”
Netanyahu retorted, “Good Irish whiskey.” It “get[s] closer] every day,” the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in a statement to Fox News on Wednesday.
He added, “We are worried about any country having a nuclear weapon. The prince continued, “We will have to get one,” adding that if Iran obtained one, Saudi Arabia would follow suit.