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US should facilitate Saudi civilian nuclear program, not China, says Israeli minister

Ron Dermer, a confidante of Netanyahu, has been key player in government’s effort to prevent nuclear Iran

Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer arrives to a government conference at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, Jan. 29, 2023. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer believes a potential Saudi civilian nuclear program would be better facilitated under the auspices of the United States, rather than China.

Dermer, a confidante of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, recently met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“Like so many things, the devil is in the details,” Dermer told NewsHour on Friday. “We will have to look at what is ultimately agreed on,” he added. 

American-born Dermer previously served as Israel’s Ambassador to Washington. He said the Saudis had several options as signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). 

“The Saudis have put that, a civilian nuclear program, which you probably are aware of, as signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), they [the Saudis] could go to China or France tomorrow and they could ask them to set a civil nuclear program and to allow for domestic enrichment,” Dermer stated. 

“The question I ask myself is, if the U.S. is involved in this, what will that mean 10 or 20 years down the road?” he added. 

Dermer, part of Netanyahu’s inner circle, has been a key player in Israel's current efforts to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

In March, Dermer and National Security Council Director Tzachi Hanegbi traveled to Washington for talks with senior Biden administration officials about the Iranian nuclear threat. Israeli and Western pundits have warned that an Iranian nuclear bomb could trigger an intense nuclear race across the combustible Middle East region. 

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

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