Will the Begin Doctrine Come to an End?

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's desire for nuclear weapons is a pressing concern, and one of the key motivations behind his agreement to normalize relations with Israel. This normalization would potentially allow Saudi Arabia to enrich uranium on its own soil, a scenario that poses a significant security threat to Israel. In response, Israel must firmly uphold the principles of the "Begin Doctrine."

The nuclear arms race in the Middle East gained momentum when the United States signed the nuclear agreement with Iran in 2015.

This race is gradually intensifying in countries such as Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey.

Now, with the possibility of the US and Israel agreeing to a tripartite deal with Saudi Arabia that permits uranium enrichment on Saudi soil, the situation may escalate further.

It is imperative that any nuclear facility constructed in Saudi Arabia be subject to strict American supervision, ensuring that its operation can be halted promptly if Saudi Arabia attempts to produce nuclear weapons.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been transparent about his intention to acquire nuclear weapons to maintain a balance of deterrence with Iran.

This motive is a driving force behind his pursuit of normalization with Israel, hoping that Israel, like the United States, would refrain from destroying the nuclear facility, as it did with reactors in Iraq and Syria.

The question of whether Israel will staunchly oppose uranium enrichment on Saudi soil remains unanswered.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, during a recent interview with CNN, referred to Saudi uranium enrichment as a “complicated thing” and “a complicated issue,” sidestepping a direct response.

Should Prime Minister Netanyahu agree to this arrangement, Saudi Arabia would become the second Middle Eastern country capable of enriching uranium.

For four decades, Israel has adhered to the “Begin Doctrine,” which categorically opposes any Middle Eastern nation acquiring nuclear weapons that could threaten its existence.

Israel has tirelessly countered Iran’s nuclear ambitions, including the destruction of nuclear reactors in Iraq and Syria.

Israel must not deviate from its established policy.

It cannot jeopardize its security and contribute to an acceleration of the nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

If Saudi Arabia genuinely seeks normalization with Israel, it should not condition the agreement on receiving American technology for uranium enrichment on its territory.

Israel must confront the harsh reality and not be misled by illusions.

Senior officials in the Israeli security establishment strongly oppose the possibility of Israel permitting Saudi Arabia to enrich uranium on its territory, potentially enabling them to reach military-grade uranium levels of 90 percent for nuclear weapons production.

Such a move could be a grave historical mistake with severe consequences.

Saudi Arabia maintains a close relationship with Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation, but it aspires to develop its own nuclear weapons capability rather than depending on Pakistan for nuclear warheads.

Leaders like President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu may have political considerations concerning the tripartite deal with Saudi Arabia, but they must prioritize the potential dangers involved.

Approval from the American Congress for such a deal may be uncertain, given the skepticism towards Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who American intelligence has unequivocally linked to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Even if Saudi Arabia eventually secures approval from the US and Israel to enrich uranium on its soil, the reaction from Iran remains uncertain.

It could potentially motivate Iran to accelerate its own nuclear weapons program.

Currently, Iran is a nuclear threshold state, but it can quickly increase uranium enrichment to 90 percent, enabling nuclear weapons production.

Israel must unwaveringly uphold the “Begin Doctrine,” which has served as a reliable policy for many years.

The Saudi demand for uranium enrichment on its soil poses a grave threat to Israel’s security. If necessary, a compromise could be reached, contingent upon strict US supervision and approval of all Saudi uranium enrichment activities.

Israel should not rush to accommodate Saudi Arabia’s requests, as Saudi Arabia and the United States both require Israel’s assistance in countering the Iranian threat.

Therefore, Israel must prioritize its own security and remain steadfast in its commitment to the “Begin Doctrine.”

Yoni Ben Menachem Senior Middle East Analyst

About Yoni Ben Menachem

Yoni Ben Menachem is a Middle East senior analyst ,a journalist and
the former CEO of the Israel Broadcasting Authority(IBA). He has
decades of experience in written and video journalism. Ben
Menachem’s path in the media world began as a producer for
Japanese television in the Middle East. After that, he held many key
positions in the media The Israeli: CEO of the Israel Broadcasting
Authority, director of “Kol Israel” Radio, reporter on West Bank and
Gaza Strip affairs, political reporter and commentator, commentator
on Middle East affairs and editor-in-chief and presenter of the
program “Middle East Magazine”. 

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