Israel Should Be Wary of Saudi Arabia’s Nuclear Ambitions

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.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

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

Despite the Toll of War at Home and Rising Hostility Abroad, Investors Are Still Choosing Israel

When I first saw news that Google wasn’t going through with its acquisition of the tech startup Wiz, I was afraid hesitancy over its Israeli founders and close ties with the Jewish state might have something to do with it. I couldn’t have been more wrong: the deal is off not because of Google’s hesitancy, but because Wiz feared the FTC would slow down the process with uncertain results. The company is instead planning an initial public offering. In the wake of the CrowdStrike debacle, companies like Wiz have every reason to be optimistic, as Sophie Shulman explains:

For the Israeli cyber sector, CrowdStrike’s troubles are an opportunity. CrowdStrike is a major competitor to Palo Alto Networks, and both companies aim to provide comprehensive cyber defense platforms. The specific issue that caused the global Windows computer shutdown is related to their endpoint protection product, an area where they compete with Palo Alto’s Cortex products developed in Israel and the SentinelOne platform.

Friday’s drop in CrowdStrike shares reflects investor frustration and the expectation that potential customers will now turn to competitors, strengthening the position of Israeli companies. This situation may renew interest in smaller startups and local procurement in Israel, given how many institutions were affected by the CrowdStrike debacle.

Indeed, it seems that votes of confidence in Israeli technology are coming from many directions, despite the drop in the Tel Aviv stock exchange following the attack from Yemen, and despite the fact that some 46,000 Israeli businesses have closed their doors since October 7. Tel Aviv-based Cyabra, which creates software that identifies fake news, plans a $70 million IPO on Nasdaq. The American firm Applied Systems announced that it will be buying a different Israeli tech startup and opening a research-and-development center in Israel. And yet another cybersecurity startup, founded by veterans of the IDF’s elite 8200 unit, came on the scene with $33 million in funding. And those are the stories from this week alone.

But it’s not only the high-tech sector that’s attracting foreign investment. The UK-based firm Energean plans to put approximately $1.2 billion into developing a so-far untapped natural-gas field in Israel’s coastal waters. Money speaks much louder than words, and it seems Western businesses don’t expect Israel to become a global pariah, or to collapse in the face of its enemies, anytime soon.

Read more at Calcalist

More about: cybersecurity, Israeli economy, Israeli gas, Israeli technology, Start-up nation