Israel officials exchange accusations over Saudi demand for nuclear power – Middle East Monitor

Israeli opposition Leader Yair Lapid and Likud officials exchanged accusations of harming Israel’s national security over Saudi’s demand for nuclear power as part of a potential deal to normalise ties with Israel.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that a potential deal is under discussion that would see the US provide aid for developing a civilian nuclear programme and give major security guarantees to Saudi Arabia.

In return, Riyadh would take major steps to distance itself from China, and Israel would take significant action towards creating an independent Palestinian state.

“I oppose any agreement that includes uranium enrichment in Saudi Arabia,” Channel 12 reported Lapid saying. “The deal at the moment endangers Israel’s security and the region. It is forbidden to give Saudi Arabia any level of uranium enrichment.”

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Lapid reached these conclusions after meeting with Israeli security officials who expressed apparent discomfort with the Saudi demand for a civilian nuclear programme.

“I have no problem with a civilian nuclear programme. There are Middle Eastern countries that have civilian nuclear programmes. What they don’t have is uranium enrichment on their soil,” he told Israeli Channel 12.

“This is what is on the table now, and it cannot be allowed to be on the table. Israel can’t agree to uranium enrichment in Saudi Arabia because it endangers Israel’s security,” he asserted.

Former national security adviser Eyal Hulata also told Kan on Thursday that Israel could not support a civilian nuclear project in the Middle East that includes local enrichment.

Responding to Lapid’s remarks, the Likud party conveyed: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brought four historic peace agreements that only strengthened the security and standing of the State of Israel, and that is what he will continue to do.”

The Likud party added in a statement: “It would be better for Lapid, who gave Hezbollah free Israeli gas reserves, not to preach to Prime Minister Netanyahu,” referring to a deal that demarcated a maritime border between Israel and Lebanon in 2022.

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