Jul 8, 2018

Israel presented U.S. with "red lines" for Saudi nuclear deal

Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO via Getty Images

Israel has presented the Trump administration with its "red lines" for the nuclear deal the United States is currently negotiating with Saudi Arabia to build reactors in the kingdom.

The big picture: A senior Israeli official told me the Israeli government realized it will not be able to stop the deal — set to be worth billions of dollars for the U.S. — and decided instead to attempt to reach an understanding with the Trump administration regarding the parameters of the deal.

  • Last March, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised concerns about the deal during a meeting with President Trump and other senior U.S. officials. Netanyahu was concerned such a deal, especially if it also includes a "right" to enrich uranium, will lead to further nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. Trump and his advisers told Netanyahu that, if the U.S. does not sell the Saudis nuclear reactors, other countries like Russia or France will.
  • The senior Israeli official told me Netanyahu sent Yuval Steinitz, his energy minister in charge of Israel's atomic energy committee, to Washington two weeks ago to meet with Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who is leading the negotiations with the Saudis over the nuclear deal.

What we're hearing: Steinitz presented Perry and other senior U.S. officials with this set of parameters:

  • Israel asked the U.S. for a "no surprises policy" regarding the negotiations with the Saudis to ensure maximum transparency.
  • Israel asked to know in advance what nuclear equipment the U.S. would sell the Saudis and asked to be consulted about the planned location of the nuclear reactors the U.S. would build in Saudi Arabia. The senior Israeli official told me the main reason for that demand is nuclear safety.
  • Israel demanded that the deal will not give Saudi Arabia the capability or the legitimacy to enrich uranium on its soil. The Saudis want to get American permission to enrich uranium as part of the deal.
  • Israel demanded that the U.S. will be the only nation to supply the Saudis with the nuclear fuel for its reactors.
  • Israel demanded that the U.S. must remove all used nuclear fuel from Saudi Arabia so that the Saudis will not be able to reprocess it.

What's next: Perry told Steinitz the U.S. will take the Israeli concerns into consideration and will continue to provide updates regarding the negotiations with the Saudis, per the senior Israeli official. The talks are set to continue during Perry's planned October visit to Israel.

Go deeper

Pelosi warns U.S. allies against working with China's Huawei

Nancy Pelosi on Feb. 16. Photo: Sven Hoppe/picture alliance via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday cautioned U.S. allies against allowing Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei to develop their 5G networks, arguing at the Munich Security Conference that doing so is akin to “choosing autocracy over democracy," CNBC reports.

Why it matters: Pelosi's hawkish stance marks a rare area of agreement with the Trump administration, which believes Huawei is a national security threat because the Chinese government may be capable of accessing its equipment for espionage.

Go deeperArrow2 hours ago - World

Judge sets "scheduling" conference call ahead of Roger Stone sentencing

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson has requested a Feb. 18 "scheduling" conference call in the Roger Stone case, two days before the former Trump associate is set to be sentenced.

Why it matters: Stone's defense team on Friday filed a sealed motion for a new trial — the second time they've done so — amid allegations of juror bias and a growing controversy over Attorney General Bill Barr's intervention in the case.

Biden says Bloomberg's money can't "erase" his record

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images.

Former Vice President Joe Biden said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that Michael Bloomberg's vast fortune cannot "erase" his record, and that scrutiny of Bloomberg's positions on things like race and policing will ramp up now that he's in the national spotlight.

Why it matters: Biden's polling free fall in the wake of poor performances in Iowa and New Hampshire has coincided with a surge for Bloomberg, who appeals to a similar moderate bloc of the Democratic Party. The billionaire's limitless spending capacity poses an especially stark threat to Biden, who has struggled with fundraising.