Israel draws red lines on Saudi nuclear aspirations
Israel has reportedly drawn a number of “red lines” it expects the United States to observe regarding a deal being finalized for the sale of nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia.
Israeli officials have realized that they would not be able to thwart the deal because of billions of dollars which it would bring in profit to the US.
Israel’s energy minister and top nuclear official Yuval Steinitz met with his US counterpart Rick Perry in Washington and presented him with a series of steep demands about the need to keep a strict tab on the kingdom's activities.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman raised eyebrows when he told CBS in May that his country was prepared to pursue nuclear weapons.
The announcement sparked uproar around the world as it raised fresh worries about a country which is home to the extremist Wahhabi ideology, having inspired terrorist groups such as Daesh, Nusra Front and al-Qaeda.
Following the outcry, a Saudi journalist with ties to the royal family, Louai a-Sharif, released a video statement aimed at Israelis and delivered in Hebrew.
In the video statement, a-Sharif said that any potential nuclear weapons program in his country would not target Israel.
Nevertheless, Steinitz made it clear to Perry that Israel wanted to prevent uranium enrichment in Saudi Arabia, know all the details of the deal in advance and be consulted on the planned location of the nuclear reactors.
Moreover, Israel sought full coordination and transparency on the negotiations and requested that the US provide all the fuel to the reactors with the precondition that the spent fuel would be removed from Saudi Arabia and not be reprocessed.
Prince Mohammed, who also serves as the Saudi defense minister, is the architect of an ambitious plan to flesh out the kingdom's military muscle.
Israel is widely known to be the only possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, with hundreds of nuclear warheads in its arsenal.
Saudi officials have tried to solace those fears by suggesting that the kingdom was on the same page with Israel with regard to perceived Iranian threat.
The US and Saudi Arabia discussed possible nuclear cooperation during the administration of former US President Barack Obama.
Those talks were frozen, however, after the Saudis refused to accept the “gold standard” which bans Riyadh from enriching uranium or reprocessing spent nuclear fuel to extract plutonium.
Unconfirmed reports suggest that US President Donald Trump, who has described Saudi Arabia as "a big purchaser of equipment and lots of other things," has shown willingness to drop that requirement.