Dr. Yoel Guzansky, head of the regional arena at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) and a former senior official in the National Security Council who has been studying Saudi Arabia for more than two decades, spoke today (Thursday) in a conversation with Walla! Regarding the Saudi demand to develop nuclear weapons in exchange for a normalization agreement with Israel. "I'm troubled by the issue. It's not Switzerland, it's a country that has dealt with all sorts of related aspects with Pakistan, China, and maybe North Korea as well. Saudi Arabia did not come to the table with clean hands. It is very afraid of Iran, and it does not hide it. Just yesterday, Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman repeated what he said years ago: 'If Iran has a nuclear program, we too will have one the next day.' Saudi Arabia is a country with ambitions and a desire to reach a nuclear balance with Iran and with the economic ability to do so."
"For about a decade, Saudi Arabia conducted negotiations with three American administrations, with Presidents Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden. They have wanted uranium enrichment in their territory for many years," Guzansky says. "So what's new? American willingness to approve nuclear development. The Americans wanted to sign an agreement with the Saudis 13 years ago, without allowing uranium enrichment, and the Saudis did not want to give up. The change came from Washington
, which changed their position."
Normalization with Saudi Arabia? Guzansky worries: 'Saudis can match Iran'/Image processing, Miriam Elster Flash 90 Reuters Shutterstock
According to his assessment, the turning point in the American approach comes due to economic concerns related to oil imports, an attempt to influence the Middle East, and a desire to create a political buffer between China and Saudi Arabia. In addition, Dr. Guzansky speculates that US President Joe Biden thinks this will help him in his election campaign and a legacy he will leave at the end of his term. "In the long run, this could be deception on the part of the Saudis, because beyond other channels on the nuclear issue, they will control technology, knowledge, instruments and materials. Although they have limited scientific ability, they have endless economic ability to import scientists from different countries. They will be able to build military nuclear capabilities and at some point they will tell the United States: 'Enough is enough.'"
"I'm more concerned about how the agreement will affect the Middle East. Egypt, Turkey, or the United Arab Emirates that can say you signed an agreement with me and I want to open it. I am not satisfied with the conditions. I gave up on uranium enrichment and I want to do it now, too. Erdogan or others will come along and then the taboo on enrichment you dismantle it. It could affect the Iranian nuclear project. They might run ahead. This will have a negative rather than a positive effect on an already unstable area. And even so, they examine the nucleus and you give them reasons to do it."
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