With nuclear talks set to resume Wednesday, Sunday Times reports Israel, Saudi Arabia heightening cooperation, in bid to formulate contingency attack plan on Iran should talks succeed in reaching agreement, but fail in halting Iranian nuclear program.
The Mossad is currently working with Saudi Arabian officials on contingency plans for a possible attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, the Sunday Times reported.
According to the paper, both Israel and the Saudi kingdom are skeptical of the nuclear talks between Iran and world powers and are working together on a possible attack plan should such an agreement actualize but fail to stop the Islamic republic from continuing its nuclear project
“Once the Geneva agreement is signed, the military option will be back on the table. The Saudis are furious and are willing to give Israel all the help it needs,” a diplomatic source is quoted by the paper as saying.
According to the Sunday Times, as part of what it called the growing cooperation between Jerusalem and Riyadh, it is possible the kingdom has already given Israel a green light to make use of its airspace in the case of an attack.
In addition to use of airspace, the growing partnership between the unlikely regional allies has reportedly manifest as cooperation regarding usage of rescue helicopters, tanker planes and drones which could aid Israel in the case of an attack.
Last week the BBC reported that Saudi Arabia is investing in Pakistani nuclear weapons projects, and believes it could obtain atomic bombs at will. According to the report, it is now possible that the Saudis might be able to deploy such devices more quickly than Iran.
Newsnight’s Mark Urban reported that earlier this year, a senior NATO decision maker told him that he had seen intelligence reporting that nuclear weapons made in Pakistan on behalf of Saudi Arabia are now sitting ready for delivery.
He quoted former Israeli Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin as telling a Sweden conference that if Iran got the bomb, “the Saudis will not wait one month. They already paid for the bomb, they will go to Pakistan and bring what they need to bring.”
He further noted that “unlike other potential regional threats, the Saudi one is very credible and imminent.”
According to the report, Saudi Arabia has sent the Americans numerous signals of its intentions since 2009, when King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia warned visiting US special envoy to the Middle East Dennis Ross that if Iran crossed the threshold, “we will get nuclear weapons.”
Newsnight further quoted Gary Samore, President Barack Obama’s former counter-proliferation adviser, as saying: “I do think that the Saudis believe that they have some understanding with Pakistan that, in extremis, they would have claim to acquire nuclear weapons from Pakistan.”
Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande, as well as French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, a key participant in talks on curbing Iran’s nuclear program which ended in deadlock last weekend, are heading to Israel on Sunday.
Netanyahu and Peres have both urged France, which took a tougher line than its Western partners in last weekend’s negotiations with Iran, to maintain its firm stance at the next round of talks which open on November 20.
“We are convinced that if Iran manufactures its bomb, all the countries of the Middle East will want to follow suit,” the Israeli president told French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche.
Israel and Western powers suspect the Islamic republic’s uranium enrichment program is part of a covert drive to acquire a nuclear weapons capability, an allegation vehemently denied by Tehran.
The P5+1 group negotiating with Tehran is made up of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States – plus Germany.
When talks resume Netanyahu will fly to Moscow on Wednesday to raise the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Hollande’s office said that although France’s “tactical approach” on Iran was different from Israel’s more bellicose stance, both seek to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon.