Israeli opposition rejects idea of KSA enriching own uranium
The negotiations for a potential normalization deal involve the US providing Riyadh with security assurances and support for a Saudi domestic civilian nuclear program.
Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid has strongly criticized the idea of permitting Saudi Arabia to engage in uranium enrichment within its borders, citing potential security threats to the occupation state.
Saudi Arabia has been seeking US assistance to develop a civilian nuclear program as part of ongoing talks brokered by the US aimed at normalizing relations between Riyadh and "Israel." This intricate arrangement could reshape Middle East geopolitics.
Lapid, the leader of "Israel's" largest opposition group, Yesh Atid, expressed his approval of the prospect of full relations between "Israel" and Saudi Arabia. However, he cautioned against the possibility of sparking "a nuclear arms race throughout the Middle East" in pursuit of such a deal, emphasizing that "Israel" should not agree to any uranium enrichment activities in Saudi Arabia.
In response to reports that US and Israeli officials were discussing a US-managed uranium enrichment program in Saudi Arabia, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stated that if Iran were to "acquire a nuclear weapon," Saudi Arabia would feel compelled to follow suit.
"Israel" is believed to possess nuclear weapons, although it neither confirms nor publicly discusses its nuclear arsenal.
A contentious issue
The negotiations for a potential normalization deal involve the US providing Riyadh with security assurances and support for a civilian nuclear program. In return, Saudi Arabia would normalize relations with "Israel" and seek concessions from it regarding the Palestinian issue.
The matter of allowing Saudi Arabia to develop a civil nuclear program has been one of the most contentious aspects of these talks. Concerns have arisen over the potential for uranium enrichment in Saudi Arabia, as it could eventually facilitate nuclear weapon production. The US has been more inclined toward Saudi Arabia procuring nuclear fuel from the international market rather than enabling on-site uranium enrichment.
However, US officials have recently shown openness to Saudi Arabia's requests for civil nuclear cooperation and discussed ways to address Israeli concerns regarding Saudi uranium enrichment.
While some members of the Israeli security establishment have reservations about endorsing a US-backed Saudi nuclear program, others argue that Saudi Arabia has alternative options if the US rejects its demands.
Analysts have also suggested that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might find it more politically expedient to accommodate Saudi Arabia's nuclear requests than to make further concessions toward Palestinian statehood recognition, given his current government's political stance.
Any civil nuclear cooperation between the US and another nation necessitates a 123 agreement (as in it should conform with the US Atomic Energy Act Section 123), subject to approval by the US Congress. The Crown Prince's suggestion that Saudi Arabia could pursue nuclear weapons could complicate this process.
This comes after a recent statement by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who admitted that Saudi Arabia was getting closer to normalizing ties with the Israeli occupation in an interview with Fox News released on Wednesday.
"Every day we get closer," Bin Salman said when asked to describe the discussions focused on normalizing diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and "Israel".
Responding to a question on the requirements of a normalization deal, the de facto Saudi leader claimed that "the Palestinian issue is very important. We need to solve that part." Adding that there had been "good negotiations" so far.
He continued, "We got to see where we go. We hope that will reach a place, that it will ease the life of the Palestinians, get Israel as a player in the Middle East."