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Israel undecided on Saudi Arabia's demand for civil nuclear technology

Israel’s security establishment is categorically opposed to the possibility of Saudi Arabia obtaining civil nuclear capabilities, but the political echelon in Israel has not made up its mind yet.
Flags of Saudi Arabia and Israel stand together in a kitchen staging area as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken holds meetings at the State Department in Washington, DC, October 14, 2021. (Photo by JONATHAN ERNST / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JONATHAN ERNST/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

TEL AVIV — Israeli Energy Minister Israel Katz expressed on Monday reservations about Saudi Arabia’s plans to establish a US-backed nuclear power program, in a first public statement on the issue by a senior Israeli official.

Katz made this statement as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was preparing to fly to Saudi Arabia for talks expected to include discussions of the nuclear program for which the Saudis are seeking US technology and know-how.

“Naturally, Israel does not encourage such things. I don't think Israel should agree to such things, but there are contacts underway," Katz told Ynet TV when asked about Israel’s stance on the Saudi demands that the US green-lights the nuclear program as a condition for the kingdom’s normalization of relations with Israel.

As mentioned, the remarks by the veteran politician, a member of the ministerial security Cabinet, were the first public Israeli comments on the Saudi condition since it was first reported earlier this year. In a clear link between prospects of peace with the Saudis and an Israeli OK for the Saudi program, Katz added, “normalization with Saudi Arabia is important and I also hope we will have a peace agreement.”

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