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Israel Energy Minister opposes Saudi civilian nuclear program as normalisation condition

June 5, 2023 at 9:18 pm

Israeli Minister of Energy Israel Katz. [Photo by SEBASTIAN SCHEINER/AFP via Getty Images]

Israel’s Energy Minister has expressed opposition to the possibility of Saudi Arabia developing a civilian nuclear program as a condition for the normalisation of bilateral relations.

Speaking to Ynet TV today, the country’s Energy Minister, Israel Katz, replied to a question about the prospective Saudi civilian nuclear program by stating that “Naturally, Israel does not encourage such things. I don’t think Israel should agree to such things”.

The issue stems back to a report by The New York Times in March that Saudi Arabia made it a condition for normalising relations with Israel that it be allowed to develop its own nuclear program for civilian purposes, amongst other conditions. That report was not confirmed by Saudi and US officials, however.

READ: US says it has ‘real national security interest’ in Saudi-Israel normalisation

Tel Aviv has long been concerned with nuclear programs adopted by other nations in the region – such as Iraq, Syria and Libya previously, and, currently, Iran – even if they be for civilian and energy purposes. That concern seems to now extend to Saudi Arabia, despite Israel’s desperate efforts to strike a normalisation deal with the Kingdom.

As Israel’s ally, the United States continues to pursue such diplomatic efforts in order to broker a historic deal, Tel Aviv made it clear last week that it expects to be consulted by Washington on any agreement which allegedly impacts its national security.

READ: US says it has ‘real national security interest’ in Saudi-Israel normalisation