The U.S. Ought Not Allow a Nuclear Saudi Arabia

Sept. 16 2020

While the nuclear agreement with Iran was being negotiated in 2014 and 2015, its critics warned that, by allowing Tehran the “right to enrich” uranium, the world powers would begin a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Revelations that China is helping Saudi Arabia build two suspected nuclear facilities suggests that this concern was warranted, as Andrea Stricker and Behnam Ben Taleblu write:

Prior to 2004, when China joined the Nuclear Suppliers Group—a group of states committed to preventing proliferation of sensitive nuclear technologies—Beijing sold problematic nuclear facilities and materials to Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, India, South Africa, Algeria, and Argentina. It has also failed to . . . prevent the supply of nuclear-related equipment and commodities by Chinese companies or foreign-owned companies operating on its soil.

Seen in this light, China’s nuclear cooperation with Saudi Arabia is likely commercial in nature, rather than the result of a strategic preference for regional supremacy by either Riyadh or Tehran. But such mercantilist considerations can create long-term opportunities for China to tempt states like Saudi Arabia out of the American orbit. In the short-to-medium term, however, Chinese assistance to Riyadh complicates Washington’s efforts to rein in Tehran’s nuclear program.

The stakes are high. If the United States fails in convincing Saudi Arabia, a regional partner, not to opt for domestic enrichment, then it will face greater hurdles getting Iran to accept limits on its own program. If the two become locked in a race for nuclear supremacy, then both countries could claim a security-based need to make nuclear weapons that might garner less outrage from the international community than if only one had developed nuclear weapons. This, in turn, would not only undercut the nonproliferation regime but trigger a cascade of regional proliferation likely beginning with Turkey or Egypt.

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Read more at FDD

More about: China, Iran nuclear program, Middle East, Nuclear proliferation, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy

 

Why the Leader of Hamas Went to Russia

Sept. 30 2022

Earlier this month, the Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh and several of his colleagues visited Moscow, where they met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Russian officials. According to Arabic-language media, Haniyeh came seeking “new ideas” about how to wage war against the Jewish state. The terrorist group has had good relations with the Kremlin for several years, and even maintains an office in Moscow. John Hardie and Ivana Stradner comment on the timing of the visit:

For Moscow, the visit likely reflects a continuation of its efforts to leverage the Palestinians and other issues to pressure Israel over its stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia and Israel built friendly relations in the decades following the Soviet Union’s dissolution. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Jerusalem condemned the war, but made sure to tread carefully in order to preserve working ties with Moscow, lest Russian military forces in Syria disrupt Israel’s strategically important air operations there.

Nevertheless, bilateral tensions spiked in April after Yair Lapid, then serving as Israel’s foreign minister, joined the chorus of voices worldwide accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine. Jerusalem later provided Kyiv with some non-lethal military aid and a field hospital. In response, Moscow hardened its rhetoric about Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian issue isn’t the only way that Russia has sought to pressure Israel. Moscow is also threatening, on seemingly spurious grounds, to shutter the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency.

Moscow likely has little appetite for outright conflict with Israel, particularly when the bulk of Russia’s military is floundering in Ukraine. But there are plenty of other ways that Russia, which maintains an active intelligence presence in the Jewish state, could damage Israel’s interests. As Moscow cozies up with Hamas, Iran, and other enemies of Israel, Jerusalem—and its American allies—would do well to keep a watchful eye.

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Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Hamas, Israeli Security, Russia