Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief, and retired Israeli Army Maj. Gen. Yaakov Amidror, a former adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, spoke in Washington Thursday night at a discussion arranged by The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Their joint appearance doesn’t mean the two countries will be normalizing relations anytime soon, Turki warned.
“We are both exes,” he said, referring to their status as former officials and not current representatives of their governments. Despite that — and the fact that the Saudi kingdom has never formally acknowledged Israel’s existence — the two nations have been quietly cooperating for years, exchanging intelligence on shared threats and in particular on Iran.
The most obvious bond the two countries share is their strong security relationship with and dependence on the United States — and the fact that both have had rocky patches with the Obama administration over the past few years.
Those “who think other countries can do what the United States used to do is a big mistake,” he said. And he indicated that he understood the Obama administration’s attempts to recalibrate its ties to the Middle East.
Both men made it clear that their countries will take steps if they see any erosion of the Iran deal they so forcefully opposed.
Turki said “all options” would be on the table if Iran moves toward a bomb, “including the acquisitions of nuclear weapons, to face whatever eventuality might come from Iran.”
Officials from the kingdom, which is party to the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, have raised that possibility in the past. However, they have more strongly stressed the need for the Middle East to be a “weapons of mass destruction free zone,” as Turki did at the event.
Amidror said he expected that Iran will move to build a bomb “toward the end of the agreement,” which limits research, development and enrichment over 10 to 15 years, if it doesn’t violate it first
“In principle, the Iranians can go nuclear and from the Israeli point of view, this is a threat to existence,” Amidror said. “We will not let this happen.”
Arab cooperation with Israel would improve, Turki said, if it could resolve its decadeslong disagreement with the Palestinians.
“Cooperation between Arab countries and Israel in meeting threats, from wherever they come, whether Iran, is better fortified if there is peace between the Arab nations and Israel,” he said
Full article: Saudi prince: Getting nukes an option if Iran breaks deal (CNN)