Iran has swiftly followed up on its thaw with Saudi Arabia by offering to help the oil kingdom develop a nuclear program. Beijing which brokered the reconcililatilon is again stepping forward with backing. Acceptance of the offer by Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed Bin Salman would be a strategic poke in the eye for Washington, boost China’s Middle East footholds and upset the 2020 Abraham accords that normalized Israel’s relations with the Arab world.
Iran’s nuclear energy minister Mohammad Eslami threw out this possibility in March adding that Iran’s nuclear assistance to Saudi Arabia would be monitored by the UN’s atomic agency.
It took some weeks for Tehran’s initiative to register. On June 5, Israel’s minister of energy Yisrael Katz disclosed that Riyadh was demanding that the US establish a uranium enrichment plant in the kingdom as part of a deal for establishing diplomatic relations with Israel. He went on to say: “Iran is the most dangerous country in the world. Its acquisition of nuclear arms would add fuel to its support for the most extremist organizations which already serve as its proxies.” He added: “We are preparing for a situation which is far from theoretical and acting in the diplomatic sphere as well.” Katz also said: “I don’t think Israel is expected to agree to this, but we are talking.” At the same time, he said “Normalization of relations with Saudi Arabia is important and I hope it will lead to a peace agreement.”
These comments by the minister of energy were taken to mean that Israel is aware of – and takes exception to – the US-Saudi discussion of a uranium enrichment plant.
China is pushing ahead with its drive for influence in the region by backing Iran’s initiative for assisting the Saudis in the development of their own a nuclear program. This initiative would help Riyadh overcome the US-Israel veto against establishing an enrichment plant in the kingdom, according to Nour, a publicationthat speaks for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and sites affiliated with Iran’s National Security Council. Israel’s objection, they say, comes from its hostility to any move for strengthening the Islamic Nation.