A Saudi Arabian journalist posted a Hebrew-language video message telling Israelis and the Jewish people to not fear the possibility of his country acquiring nuclear weapons, as they would not be a threat to Israel but rather would be intended for self-defense against regional aggressors.
Loay al-Shareef published the short clip on his Facebook page March 19. In it he talked about the concerns in Israel after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in a US television interview earlier this month that Saudi Arabia would arm itself with nuclear munitions if Iran ever obtained the weapons.
According to a Hadashot news channel report about the video clip, Shareef is considered close to the royal family.
“Following the meeting with the Prince Mohammad bin Salman, and his discussion on developing nuclear weapons, some Israeli journalists provoked Bibi [Benjamin] Netanyahu against Saudi Arabia saying Saudi Arabia posed a nuclear threat,” Shareef said in accented, but fluent Hebrew.
“So I say to them and to the Jewish people: Did Saudi Arabia ever threaten her neighbors? The answer is no. Does Saudi Arabia have ambitions to expand its territory? The answer is no. Prince Mohammad’s address was about self-defense because of those who are a threat to their neighbors and aspire to expand their territory in the region. Read the news thoroughly, people of Israel. Thank you and see you next time.”
According to the Arab Media Forum webpage, Shareef studied programming in Pennsylvania State University and speaks English, French, Hebrew, and Arabic.
In a US television interview aired last week Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Salman spoke of how his country would respond to a nuclear-equipped Iran.
“Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible,” he said in the interview.
At last week’s cabinet meeting Netanyahu warned against “nuclearizing the Middle East,” saying that the Iran nuclear deal, in its current form, could lead to a dangerous arms race.
“Many countries in the Middle East say that they too should be allowed to enrich uranium if Iran is allowed to,” Netanyahu said, at the opening of the meeting detailing his meetings with US officials, including US President Donald Trump, during a five day-trip to the US.
Channel 10 news, citing unnamed senior Israeli officials, reported after the meeting that Trump refused Netanyahu’s request for a commitment to halting an emerging deal to sell reactors to Saudi Arabia, telling the prime minister that if the US did not supply the reactors, then the Russians or Chinese would.
Netanyahu and his team reportedly requested that, if the Americans insist on going ahead with building the reactors, Saudi Arabia be prevented from enriching uranium by itself. They demanded that this be a precondition for the entire deal, the report added.
In recent months Saudi Arabia has announced its intentions of embarking on a massive program to become “self-sufficient” in producing nuclear fuel. Preliminary plans suggest the Saudis may be looking to build as many as 17 reactors in all.
Netanyahu’s requests come despite an apparent ongoing improvement in behind-the-scene ties between Jerusalem and Riyadh, ironically spurred by a joint desire to both prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and to fix the Iran nuclear deal. This week, the Saudis granted Air India permission to fly through Saudi airspace to Israel, a first in 70 years. The first flight from India to Tel Aviv over Saudi territory took off from New Delhi on Thursday.
In 2015 Iran signed the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action JCPOA with world powers in which it agreed to dismantle the weapons-capable aspects of its nuclear program in return for the lifting of economic sanctions.