Saudi Arabia has reportedly asked the United States for help in developing a “civilian nuclear program” and for fewer restrictions on arms purchases in exchange for normalizing ties with Israel, according to an article in the New York Times.
Saudi Arabia has yet to sign a normalization agreement with Israel officially, citing concerns for the mistreatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories. Nevertheless, the country has already opened its airspace to Israeli flights and has hosted Israeli business people and officials over the past few years. While a peace agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel could lead to an agreement with the Palestinians, some US lawmakers believe that selling more weapons to Saudi Arabia should come in exchange for better behavior towards the United States, not just towards Israel.
The decades-long relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia took a dramatic plunge last year following the start of the war in Ukraine, as the kingdom refused to cut ties with Russia. Washington was further pushed to the brink after the OPEC+ group of countries, including Saudi Arabia and Russia, announced a major oil production cut despite US officials’ intense lobbying of Gulf states. Despite all of this, the Biden White House approved several new arms sales to Saudi Arabia last year, ignoring his campaign promises to make the kingdom a “pariah” and the calamity US bombs have caused in Yemen. Last year, Biden also gave MbS immunity for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi after the crown prince was named prime minister.
Saudi seeks security guarantees from the US & Israel at same time as it re-establishes relations with #Iran thanks to #China— Joshua Landis (@joshua_landis) March 10, 2023
KSA asks for civilian nuclear program & fewer restrictions on U.S. arms sales as price for normalizing relations with #Israelhttps://t.co/cHwMHyILkO https://t.co/uEAmqBrfCP
In summary, Saudi Arabia has reportedly asked the US for help with developing a civilian nuclear program and for fewer restrictions on arms purchases in exchange for normalizing ties with Israel. While normalization between Tel Aviv and Riyadh could fulfill several goals of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, questions remain about the viability of the kingdom’s latest demands due to the frosty relationship between Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman and US President Joe Biden. Furthermore, US officials are reportedly wary of Riyadh’s nuclear aspirations, and congress may push back on any backroom deal reached with Saudi Arabia. Last year, the Biden White House approved several new arms sales to Saudi Arabia, despite his campaign promises to make the kingdom a “pariah” and the calamity US bombs have caused in Yemen.