Mohammad bin Salman, via Wikimedia Commons

The Israeli paper “Haaretz” is reporting that the Biden Administration is organizing a grand deal to get Saudi Arabia to formally recognize Israel in return for permission to gather enriched uranium in the kingdom.  

There’s little doubt that the Saudi kingdom under control of Mohammed Bin Salman will use it to create nuclear bombs.  The Haaretz article says there’s a group in the Senate that might stand in the way of this deal, a group of Democrats led by Connecticut’s Chris Murphy.

Why does oil engorged and sun-drenched Saudi Arabia need enriched uranium?  The answer is pretty clear.  Robert Einhorn formerly a senior U.S. State Department official responsible for non-proliferation said last month, “We heard Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman clearly say that he wants to match any nuclear capability achieved by Iran. His intentions are no secret, and they must be part of the administration’s considerations.”

The words “nuclear capability” obviously refer to nuclear weapons. The Crown Prince wants his kingdom to join Israel as the only Middle Eastern members of the nuclear club.

Why would anyone want to allow atomic weapons in the hands of a reckless Mohammed Bin Salman, the actual ruler of Saudi Arabia (his aged and diminished father is king only in name)?  Do we remember that in 2015 “MBS” as he’s nicknamed went to war against neighboring Yemen in a campaign that he expected to win in weeks?  The result has been eight horrible years of war with hundreds of thousands dead from warfare or famine.

Should we forget what MBS did to Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, having him slaughtered, and to this day refusing to tell his family what was done to his remains.  Do we have to explain that Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy in which a few tweets of criticism can get you imprisoned for decades or even sentenced to death? Are we even surprised by the recent report that the monarchy’s border guards have routinely shot dead migrants by the hundreds?

Now we can understand why Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu government would want this deal.  Prime Minister Netanyahu has been indicted for a number of crimes.  His government is attempting a “judicial coup” to end any court check on decisions by his government (as happens in the U.S. when something is ruled unconstitutional).

Internationally, Israeli rule over Palestinians is being openly described as the crime apartheid, not just by human rights groups, but recently by Tamir Pardo, a past head of Israel’s spy agency, the Mossad. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis go into the streets each weekend to protest Netanyahu’s government.  Jared Kushner brokered a number of agreements, the so-called Abraham Accords, with countries ruled by Arab royalty.  The biggest of them, Saudi Arabia, has so far balked.  It would be a big feather in his cap if Netanyahu would get MBS into the fold.

We know why the Saudi royals want it.  We know why Netanyahu’s government wants it, but why in the world would Americans want it?  Why would we desire to strengthen vicious, violent undemocratic regimes?  It was utterly painful to see President Biden clasp hands at the G-20 with Mohammed Bin Salman and Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister, who has been said by the great Indian writer Arundhati Roy as making their country into a “Hindu-fascist enterprise.”  

Let’s not have any more of this. Maybe there’s something in this for the billionaires, but for working and middle-class people this is just an embrace of bigotry, exploitation, and tyranny.

So, Senator Murphy, squash the deal.  Stand firm against it. In 2019 you said, “President Donald Trump is committing “nuclear nonproliferation malpractice” by transferring nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.“ A year ago you said, “I think you’ve got to be very careful to do business with the Saudis these days, you’re condoning and associating yourself with a brutal regime.” You were right both times. 

There’s no reason to strengthen forces of brutality and apartheid.  Let’s have no part in further normalization of ruthlessness and criminality.

Stanley Heller of Danbury is Administrator of Promoting Enduring Peace.