Can the United States Prevent Saudi Arabia from Getting Nuclear Weapons?

(National Interest) Emily B. Landau and Shimon Stein - Saudi Arabia has recently renewed efforts with the U.S. for the development of nuclear energy and negotiations on a possible deal are ongoing. Saudi Arabia has insisted on retaining its "right" to enrich uranium, which can lay the ground for a military nuclear capability in the years ahead. It is also clear that the Saudis' nuclear plans are intimately tied to Iran's, and since 2010 Saudi leaders have become more and more open about the fact that if Iran attains nuclear weapons, they will quickly follow suit. The current challenge for the U.S. is how to insist on an agreement that explicitly denies Saudi Arabia the right to work on sensitive nuclear technologies (enrichment capabilities and plutonium reprocessing), without driving it into the hands of other nuclear suppliers, such as Russia, China and South Korea. Yet the administration is keenly aware that the Iran nuclear deal set a very negative precedent when it legitimized Iran's enrichment capabilities. A decision by the U.S. to allow Saudi Arabia to have enrichment capabilities will confront Israel with a dilemma. It has been Israeli policy to do its utmost to deny any neighboring country with whom it does not have a peace treaty the means to acquire and develop a nuclear program. Israel should support the traditional U.S. nonproliferation policies which allow states to have access to nuclear fuel for civilian purposes, while denying them the option of self-production. Emily Landau is a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) and head of its Arms Control and Regional Security Program. Shimon Stein, a former Israeli ambassador to Germany, is a senior research fellow at INSS.

2018-12-06 00:00:00

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