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PMO clarifies: Israel continues to oppose Saudi civilian nuclear program

(Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90, Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS)

Israel continues to oppose the development of nuclear programs in the Middle East, the Prime Minister’s Office stated on Sunday.

The statement followed an interview that Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer gave to a U.S. media outlet, during which he didn’t explicitly rule out the possibility that Israel could allow a Saudi nuclear program in the framework of a peace deal.

“Israel never agreed to a nuclear program for any of its neighboring countries,” and added: “This was and remains Israel’s policy," Dermer said, according the the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brought four historic peace agreements that only strengthened Israel’s security and standing and that is what he will continue doing,” the statement continued, referring to the 2020 Abraham Accords.

On Saturday, opposition leader Yair Lapid attacked Dermer’s statement as “factually incorrect,” and claimed that it put Israel's security in danger.

“It is possible to reach an agreement that strengthens our national security without Israel signing off to uranium enrichment in the Middle East,” he added.

Lapid has been outspoken against allowing Saudi Arabia to enrich uranium as part of a nuclear program. The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have been discussing the possibility of a broad security agreement that could include a peace deal with Israel.

In his interview with PBS NewsHour, Dermer said that Israel opposed a Saudi nuclear weapons program and didn’t mention the issue of uranium enrichment.

He added that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Saudi Arabia would theoretically be within its rights to pursue a civilian nuclear program. He cautioned the U.S. against rejecting a Saudi request, which could result in the kingdom turning to China for help.

Dermer's statement was widely interpreted as the minister giving his tacit approval for a Saudi nuclear program as long as its being facilitated by Washington.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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