In news that is likely to raise concerns in Israel, Saudi Arabia has been given a boost by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in its ongoing efforts to develop nuclear energy. The global body was quoted on Monday as saying that the kingdom was preparing to adopt nuclear energy and the agency was providing support.
"Saudi Arabia is interested in nuclear energy and we are working on providing it with the necessary support," IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi is reported saying in Reuters. The report stated the kingdom's intention to tap nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and use nuclear power to diversify its energy mix.
This may come as a blow to Israel. The Zionist state has previously expressed concern over the development of nuclear technology by the Saudis. These concerns were expressed to the US as recently as last month when the Saudis were being encouraged to join the UAE in normalising relations with Israel.
According to the Times of Israel, security and intelligence officials from Tel Aviv had reached out to their US counterparts to express concern over the Saudi's developing a nuclear programme that could potentially challenge Israel's. The meeting was treated with high level sensitivity due to concerns about harming Israel's unofficial ties with Riyadh and a potential normalisation with the kingdom on the back of its deal with the UAE.
Above all, the Zionist state fears losing its military supremacy; what is often referred to as Israel's "qualitative advantage" over the region. Its need for total domination is the reason why the sale of F-35 fighter jets to the UAE as part of the normalisation deal has become such a bone of contention.
Israel's Minister of Intelligence insisted on Sunday that it is impossible for the UAE to be allowed to buy advanced US-made F-35 jet fighters, despite Abu-Dhabi's insistence that obtaining F-35 was a key part of the deal. Should such a sale go ahead, Israel has said that it would require compensation from the US.
The Saudis, who have been working with the Chinese to develop their nuclear programme, and are desperate to diversify from oil to an alternative energy source, are likely to view Israel's attempt to undermine their efforts as a major obstacle to normalisation.