The Saudi Nuclear Program Poses a Danger to Israel

In October, shortly before stepping down, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced that talks over providing Riyadh with American assistance in developing its civilian nuclear capabilities had reached an impasse over Saudi reluctance to pledge not to enrich uranium. Once a country can enrich uranium itself, it can produce not only the low-enriched fuel used for civilian purposes but also the high-enriched form necessary for nuclear weapons. For decades, the American-led nonproliferation regime has allowed nations to purchase the former while forbidding them to enrich it themselves. But the Obama administration’s recognition of an Iranian “right to enrich” has overturned that standard. Yoel Guzansky notes the consequences:

The kingdom’s interest in nuclearization is nothing new, [but] in March 2018, [the] Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman said publicly—and explicitly—for the first time that if Iran acquired military nuclear capabilities, the Saudis would follow suit without delay.

It’s possible that a dangerous nuclear loop has been established between Iran and its neighbors: Iran’s nuclear efforts are motivating the states that feel threatened by Iran to nuclearize, and attempts by Saudi Arabia—and Turkey—to nuclearize do nothing to convince Iran to stop its nuclear program. At some point, Iran and its neighbors’ progress on nuclear infrastructure and knowledge could pass the point of no return.

Israel has an interest in preventing even Arab countries with which it cooperates, whether openly or in secret, from nuclearizing. This is because of the concern over a regional dynamic of nuclearization, which could push Iran to step up its own nuclear work; concern over dissemination of nuclear information; and concerns about a future change to the alignment of regional players or changes to friendly nations—for example, if a regime were to fall.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iranian nuclear program, Israeli Security, Middle East, Nuclear proliferation, Saudi Arabia

The Arab Press Blames Iran Rather Than Israel for Gaza’s Woes

Following the fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad over the weekend, many journalists and commentators in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia didn’t rush to condemn the Jewish state. Instead, as the translators at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) note, they criticized the terrorist group for “operating in service of Iranian interests and thus inflicting suffering on the Gaza Strip’s residents.” One Saudi intellectual, Turki al-Hamad, wrote the following on Twitter:

It is apparent that, if at one time any confrontation between Israel and the Palestinian organizations would attract world and Arab attention and provoke a wave of anger [against Israel], today it does not shock most Arabs and most of the world’s [countries]. Furthermore, even a sense of human solidarity [with the Palestinians] has become rare and embarrassing, raising the question, “Why [is this happening] and who is to blame?”

I believe that the main reason is the lack of confidence in all the Palestinian leaders. . . . From the Arabs’ and the world’s perspective, it is already clear that these leaders are manipulating the [Palestinian] cause out of self-interest and diplomatic, economic, or even personal motives, and that the Palestinian issue is completely unconnected to this. The Palestinian cause has become a bargaining chip in the hands of these and other organizations and states headed by the [Iranian] ayatollah regime.

A, article in a major Arabic-language newspaper took a similar approach:

In a lengthy front-page report on August 7, the London-based UAE daily Al-Arab criticized Islamic Jihad, writing that “Gaza again became an arena for the settling of accounts between Iran and Israel, while the Palestinian citizens are the ones paying the price.” It added that Iran does not want to confront Israel directly for its bombings in Syria and its attacks on Iranian scientists and nuclear facilities.

“The war in Gaza is not the first, nor will it be the last. But it proves . . . that Iran is exploiting Gaza as it exploits Lebanon, in order to strengthen its hand in negotiations with the West. We all know that Iran hasn’t fired a single bullet at Israel, and it also will not do this to defend Gaza or Lebanon.”

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Read more at MEMRI

More about: Gaza Strip, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israel-Arab relations, Persian Gulf