Israel Should Be Wary of Saudi Arabia’s Nuclear Ambitions

Aug. 19 2020

When the U.S. was negotiating the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, skeptics warned that it could lead to a rush among Middle Eastern regimes to acquire nuclear capabilities of their own. After all, if the international community recognized Tehran’s “right to enrich” uranium—and thus produce the fuel necessary for both military and civilian nuclear projects—on what grounds could it deny such a right to other nations? As predicted, Saudi Arabia has undertaken civilian nuclear projects, insisted to Washington that it should be allowed to enrich uranium, and now reportedly has constructed a uranium-refinement facility with Chinese help. Yoel Guzansky, Ephraim Asculai, and Eyal Propper examine the implications:

Saudi Arabia itself has ample resources and substantial uranium deposits [as well as] connections with various countries that are liable to share necessary nuclear knowledge and expertise with it, chief among them North Korea and Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia [also] has sufficient motivation for acquiring its own nuclear capability. Its motive for relying on the Chinese and others is rooted, inter alia, in its doubts about the reliability of American support. . . . Iran’s waning commitment to the [2015] agreement and the shortening of the time needed for an Iranian breakout to a nuclear weapon are liable to increase concern among the Saudi leadership, and to expedite its activity toward the acquisition of nuclear capability, including by way of shortcuts.

Israel cannot remain indifferent to accelerated nuclear developments in Saudi Arabia. It must improve the intelligence tools at its disposal to facilitate better knowledge about the kingdom’s nuclear-related activities. Despite its considerable shared interests with Saudi Arabia, Israel should also establish a professional dialogue in the matter with its partners in the United States and Europe and raise its concerns with China. In recent years, Israel has to a large extent turned a blind eye to the military buildup by a number of Gulf states—a buildup that erodes Israel’s qualitative military edge.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: China, Iranian nuclear program, Israeli foreign policy, Nuclear proliferation, Saudi Arabia

Don’t Let Iran Go Nuclear

Sept. 29 2022

In an interview on Sunday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the Biden administration remains committed to nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic, even as it pursues its brutal crackdown on the protests that have swept the country. Robert Satloff argues not only that it is foolish to pursue the renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal, but also that the White House’s current approach is failing on its own terms:

[The] nuclear threat is much worse today than it was when President Biden took office. Oddly, Washington hasn’t really done much about it. On the diplomatic front, the administration has sweetened its offer to entice Iran into a new nuclear deal. While it quite rightly held firm on Iran’s demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from an official list of “foreign terrorist organizations,” Washington has given ground on many other items.

On the nuclear side of the agreement, the United States has purportedly agreed to allow Iran to keep, in storage, thousands of advanced centrifuges it has made contrary to the terms of the original deal. . . . And on economic matters, the new deal purportedly gives Iran immediate access to a certain amount of blocked assets, before it even exports most of its massive stockpile of enriched uranium for safekeeping in a third country. . . . Even with these added incentives, Iran is still holding out on an agreement. Indeed, according to the most recent reports, Tehran has actually hardened its position.

Regardless of the exact reason why, the menacing reality is that Iran’s nuclear program is galloping ahead—and the United States is doing very little about it. . . . The result has been a stunning passivity in U.S. policy toward the Iran nuclear issue.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy