Israel’s energy minister says the United States is not planning to ease nuclear non-proliferation limits on Saudi Arabia in case it strikes a nuclear power deal with the Arab kingdom.
In a Reuters interview published Wednesday Yuval Steinitz said Israel vehemently opposes any attempt by Saudi Arabia to clinch nuclear power deals with the US that relax the so-called “gold standard.”
The standard bans Riyadh from enriching uranium or reprocessing spent nuclear fuel to extract plutonium.
“Once you allow one country to enrich uranium or reprocess fuel, it will be extremely difficult to tell other countries in this vicinity or elsewhere in the world not to do so,” Steinitz said, after discussing the matter with US officials in Washington.
By relaxing the limits “you deteriorate the non-proliferation effort, so I am confident the Americans would listen to our concern,” he added.
The US and Saudi Arabia had discussed possible cooperation on nuclear energy under former US President Barack Obama, but those talks were frozen after the Saudis refused to accept the “gold standard.”
But US President Donald Trump, who has been willing to drop that requirement, has already authorized his Energy Secretary Rick Perry to work with Saudi Arabia on a civilian nuclear agreement.
Steinitz, who was in the US capital for the World Gas Conference, noted that Israel would support a Saudi deal for nuclear power only if the kingdom adhered to the gold standard protections and purchased uranium from the US.
The development comes as the Israeli regime is the sole possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. Ironically, the regime has been accused by its own nuclear experts of selling Saudi Arabia information that would allow the kingdom to develop nuclear weapons.
Despite a lack of formal diplomatic relations, Israel and Saudi Arabia have become de-facto allies against Iran.
Saudi and Israeli officials were delighted when Trump pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal on May 8. The kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir even said they were ready to pursue making nuclear weapons in the wake of Washington’s withdrawal from the agreement.
Saudi Arabia has said that if the US does not help its bid to build nuclear reactors, it could turn to other international partners. Riyadh has already entered talks with companies from several countries, including Russia, China and South Korea.