The Danger of the Saudi Nuclear Program, and How to Stop It

Last month, the Saudi energy minister announced that his country intends to develop the capability to produce nuclear fuel from scratch—in other words, to acquire the technology to build nuclear bombs as well as nuclear reactors. Andrea Stricker notes that such a plan would defy economic sense if Riyadh had purely civilian ends in mind, and warns of the destabilizing effects of the kingdom obtaining atomic weapons, or even the capacity to build them. She outlines how the U.S. could prevent such an eventuality. (Free registration required.)

To begin, the Biden administration should renew the push for a bilateral U.S.-Saudi agreement on nuclear cooperation accord in which Riyadh forgoes uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing—provisions that constitute the “gold standard” of nonproliferation. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) committed to the gold standard in 2009. If Saudi Arabia agrees, the White House should bring both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi into an exclusive club of U.S. partners, those granted major non-NATO ally (MNNA) status.

In addition, the United States should make clear to Riyadh that we will not sit by idly as Iran advances to the nuclear threshold. It should announce a new, comprehensive strategy against Iran that uses all instruments of American power to . . . deter and severely to weaken the regime, while rolling back Iran’s aggression. This strategy should seek to limit Iran’s nuclear program, rather than encourage Saudi Arabia or other countries in the region to seek equivalence.

If the Saudis refuse a cooperative approach, the Biden administration should make clear that the bilateral relationship will be negatively impacted by Saudi enrichment.

Saudi enrichment would not only further destabilize the Middle East, it would propel other nations, such as the UAE, Turkey, and Egypt, to start their own nuclear fuel-production programs and ensure the current Iranian regime never abandons enrichment. Admittedly, the Biden administration must overcome its frequent antagonism toward Riyadh to deepen its security relationship with the Saudis. But given current geopolitical and energy security realities, a stronger relationship would benefit both sides.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear program, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy, United Arab Emirates

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7