Israel Beitenu Chairman MK Avigdor Liberman on Tuesday sent a letter to State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman following reports that the Israeli government did not hold a discussion with the relevant security officials on the Saudi nuclear issue. Liberman asked the comptroller to “get into the thick of it as quickly as possible before dramatic agreements are made that would affect the security of the State of Israel and its citizens.”
Liberman argued that since this is a security issue, Netanyahu should have sought the approval of the political-security cabinet to discuss it with foreign officials, and since the cabinet did not deal with it, Netanyahu does not have the authority to agree in the name of the State of Israel to the establishment of a Saudi nuclear program.
“In recent months, the citizens of Israel, including members of the government, have been exposed to the fact that the prime minister is inclined to accept the Saudi nuclear program, which is formally presented as a nuclear program for peaceful purposes,” MK Liberman wrote, noting that “It goes without saying that Saudi Arabia, which has one of the largest oil reserves in the world, does not need any nuclear weapons for peaceful purposes.”
Instead, Liberman argued, such a plan “has far-reaching consequences for the security of Israel and the entire region, which may become a regional nuclear race that is extremely dangerous for us.”
Liberman cautioned that, according to media reports, the PM flew to the USA with the knowledge that he would discuss the aforementioned plan with government officials there, without an in-depth discussion or even consultation with the professional security echelon, nor with the political-security cabinet.
“I am writing you to point out the Prime Minister’s lack of authority to make commitments on behalf of the State of Israel on the Saudi nuclear issue absent any comprehensive discussion in the Cabinet,” Liberman wrote, and added: “The law explicitly requires that any war and peace decision must be brought to the cabinet for discussion and approval.”
According to the World Nuclear Association, in 2012, the Saudi government adopted a proposal by the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy to add 23.9 GWe of renewable capacity by 2020 and 54 GWe by 2032, but the plan was later pushed back to 2040.
Saudi Arabia’s population has grown from 4 million in 1960 to more than 34 million in 2020, and it consumes more than 25% of its own oil production. As a result, while Saudi energy demand is going to continue to increase substantially, oil production is not.
In January 2019 the IAEA delivered its final report on Saudi Arabia’s nuclear ambitions, concluding that “significant progress” had been made, including the establishment of a legislative framework and development of nuclear infrastructure. In February 2022, Saudi Arabia confirmed the establishment of the Nuclear Holding Company, which will act as the country’s nuclear developer.