Saudi crown prince is plotting to get US nuclear secrets by playing the White House, Russia, and China off against each other, report says

US President Joe Biden and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Alsalam Royal Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on July 15, 2022.
US President Joe Biden and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Alsalam Royal Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on July 15, 2022.Royal Court of Saudi Arabia / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
  • Saudi Arabia's de-facto ruler is seeking to pit major powers against each other, a report said.

  • Mohammed bin Salman reportedly believes it will help him secure US nuclear technology.

  • Saudi Arabia has snubbed the US and drawn closer to rivals including China.

Saudi Arabia's de-facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, is trying to get better access to US nuclear technology by playing global powers against each other, Saudi officials told The Wall Street Journal. 

In recent months, Saudi Arabia has provoked the ire of the US, traditionally its closest international ally, while drawing closer to US adversaries including China and Russia.

Analysts have told Insider that the move appears to be part of a power play by Crown Prince Mohammed, amid perceptions that US influence in the region is waning.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Crown Prince Mohammed may be using its relations with China and Russia to establish a closer US security relationship.

The New York Times last week reported that Saudi Arabia said it could potentially normalize ties with Israel if the US provides it security guarantees and assistance in its civilian nuclear program.

The Saudis are "dealing with everyone — Israel and Iran, China and the US, Russia and the Europeans—and being quite ambiguous about what they want to do and what's their ultimate goal," Cinzia Bianco, Gulf research fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations think tan told The Wall Street Journal.

"Create a lot of confusion where everyone keeps wondering what they're really up to, that's exactly the point."

Last October, Saudi Arabia was accused by the Biden administration of siding with Russia in cutting oil production, despite the US believing that it had secured a deal with Riyadh to increase production in order to stem domestic inflation.

The disagreement provoked a diplomatic spat, and petty name calling by the nations.

And in December, Crown Prince Mohammed welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping to Saudi Arabia for a lavish summit, where the leaders agreed to cooperate across a swath of economic and foreign policy goals. The summit led to a rebuke from the White House, which said that China could not be trusted.

China has sought to consolidate its bid to topple the US as the key international power in the region. Last week, it  brokered talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which have long been involved in proxy conflicts.

However, Saudi Arabia has also made moves to appease the US, announcing large aid packages to Ukraine, a US ally,  in its war against Russia, and announcing a deal with Boeing last week to build a fleet of new airliners which the White House praised. 

The balancing act appears to be based on the calculation by Saudi Arabia that the US will be forced to offer concessions to the Saudis in order to maintain the alliance and offset the growing influence of China.

A civilian nuclear program and better access to US weapons have long been core Saudi objectives, and Riyadh said last week that they would be the price for normalizing its relations with Israel.

US officials are wary of providing nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, The New York Times reported, as they believe the Saudis could seek to develop nuclear weapons, amid fears that Iran is again gearing up its nuclear program.

Read the original article on Business Insider