Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Prime Minister Netanyahu
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Prime Minister NetanyahuYonatan Sindel/Flash90, Reuters

Israeli officials are quietly working with the Biden administration on a proposal to set up a US-run uranium-enrichment operation in Saudi Arabia as part of a complex three-way deal to establish official diplomatic relations between the two Middle Eastern countries, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing US and Israeli officials.

According to the report, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directed top Israeli nuclear and security specialists to cooperate with US negotiators as they try to reach a compromise that could allow Saudi Arabia to become the second country in the Middle East, after Iran, to openly enrich uranium.

Negotiations between the US and Saudi Arabia regarding the normalization of ties with the Jewish state have been ongoing for the past several months. Among the Saudi demands, in addition to concessions to the Palestinians, is a civil uranium enrichment program run by the Americans.

“On the nuclear issue, we’ve seen completely eye to eye right from the start. On what we cannot do and what it is we might be able to do,” said a senior Israeli official. The Israeli official said they would want to put “a lot” of safeguards on any Saudi enrichment program.

“Whatever is done regarding civil nuclear cooperation with Saudi Arabia or anybody else will meet stringent US nonproliferation standards,” the US official said.

On Wednesday, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke with Fox News about the negotiations, saying, "Every day we get closer, it seems it's for the first time real one serious. We get to see how it goes."

He insisted his country could work with Israel, no matter who is in charge, calling a potential deal "the biggest historical deal since the end of the Cold War."

The idea of giving the okay for the Saudis to enrich Uranium is a contentious one. Opposition leader Yair Lapid told Israel’s Channel 12 last month that “Israel can’t agree to uranium enrichment in Saudi Arabia because it endangers its national security. It would harm our campaign against Iran. It would lead to a regional nuclear arms race.”