The Middle East Nuclear Arms Race Has Begun

In recent negotiations with the White House, Saudi officials requested American aid in building a nuclear program, including the ability to enrich uranium—a process that can be used for both military and civilian applications. (Most countries with civilian nuclear programs purchase already-enriched uranium, but don’t have the capacity to enrich it further into fuel for atomic weapons.) Jonathan Schachter sees these demands as evidence that America’s failure to restrain Iran has sparked a regional arms race that is already well under way:

Riyadh’s insistence on enrichment follows previous revelations of Saudi activity since the conclusion of the [Iran deal] that appears aimed toward matching Iran’s growing ability to produce and deliver nuclear weapons. In August 2020, the Wall Street Journal reported that, with the help of China, the Saudis have built a facility to process uranium ore. In December of the following year, the Journal revealed that the kingdom, again with Chinese assistance, is producing its own ballistic missiles.

The U.S. is incentivizing regional nuclearization by downplaying the Iranian nuclear threat, excessively restraining its responses to Iranian nuclear violations and other provocations, and alienating and undermining its allies.

The way to halt and even reverse the Middle East nuclear arms race is straightforward and requires two steps under U.S. leadership. First, it is well past time to end, rather than enable, Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The U.S. should work with its European allies to . . . reimpose the United Nations arms embargo on Iran and a complete ban on Iranian uranium enrichment.

Second, the United States should take a complementary approach to its allies and partners in the Middle East, by providing them with the diplomatic and military support necessary both to deter Iran and to instill in them sufficient confidence to obviate their own pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Read more at The Hill

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, Nuclear proliferation, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy


Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict