By Payman Yazdani

Stronger SA likely to spread its extremist ideology : Zonis

February 23, 2019

TEHRAN - Commenting on the consequences of selling sensitive nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, Marvin Zonis says stronger Saudi Arabia will likely spread its extremist ideology.

The U.S. President Donald Trump is rushing to transfer sensitive nuclear power technology to Saudi Arabia, according to a new congressional report.

To know more about the consequences of such act, we reached out to Marvin Zonis, Professor of international political economy and leadership in the University of Chicago.

Here is the full text of his interview:

Q: What can be the consequences of such act for the region?

A: The first National Security Adviser to newly inaugurated President Trump was Michael Flynn, a retired general who has been found guilty of lying to the FBI and is awaiting sentencing. He pushed the idea of selling nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia, an idea which almost died when he was fired. There are still officials in the Trump administration who would like to do that. Since the transfer of that technology requires support from Congress and the Democrats now control the House of Representatives, that sale will not go ahead. But the idea is a particularly bad one because it would certainly increase the pressure on other Middle Eastern states to acquire nuclear technology — Turkey in particular — and would support those voices in Iran who support resuming enrichment.

Q: As the Saudi Kingdom is the main sponsor of Takfiri extremism all around the world, what can be consequences of such act globally?

A: President Trump supports Saudi Arabia as a counter weight to Iran. But a stronger Saudi Arabia would be more likely to spread its ideology across the Muslim world. The President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, someone who has known nothing about international relations, has been working on a Middle Eastern peace plan which is apparently near completion and ready for presentation to Middle Eastern states, Saudi Arabia in particular. That plan undoubtedly has provisions limiting the Saudi transfer of its extremist ideology. But we will have to wait for the publication of the plan.

Q: U.S. is committed to Israeli regime’s security. Can’t such a move create possible threats to the security of Tel Aviv despite current cooperation between Ryadh and Tel Aviv?

A: Of course it could especially because the Israelis would be worried about the Saudis transferring the technology to other Middle Eastern states considered hostile to Israel. 

Q: Comparing the U.S. reaction to Saudi missile and nuclear program with its reaction to Iran’s ones, isn’t the U.S. policy enjoying double standards?  

A: The Saudis have not had any meaningful missile or nuclear lear programs — although long ago they helped finance Pakistan’s development of nuclear weapons against India. So the U.S. has not had a double standard in that sense. But the stupidity of U.S. policy — to withdraw from the JCPOA — and then think about selling nuclear reactors to the Saudis is the height of a double standard.

Q: What is Trump after in the region by destabilizing acts?

A: The Trump administration believes that Iran is destabilizing the region, not the U.S

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