RIYADH – Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS) in a clear message to the world has said that the country will follow suit as soon as possible if Iran developed a nuclear bomb.
The crown prince told this CBS, a US television network, in an interview that will air in full on “60 Minutes” on Sunday.
“Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible,” the crown prince said in remarks released on Thursday.
The heir to the throne, in response to a question, said, he has referred to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as “the new Hitler” of the Middle East because “he wants to expand.”
The prince said “He [Khamenei] wants to create his own project in the Middle East very much like Hitler who wanted to expand at the time”.
“Many countries around the world and in Europe did not realize how dangerous Hitler was until what happened, happened. I don’t want to see the same events happening in the Middle East,” he added.
Crown Prince Mohammed, who also serves as Saudi defense minister, said last year that the Kingdom would make sure any future struggle between the two countries “is waged in Iran.”
Both countries – the Sunni Muslim kingdom and Shi’ite Iran – are involved in proxy wars in the region for decades. The states are also supporting their favourite governments in armed conflict and political crisis in Syria, Iran, Yemen and Lebanon.
Downplaying Tehran, MBS said: “Iran is not a rival to Saudi Arabia. Its army is not among the top five armies in the Muslim world. The Saudi economy is larger than the Iranian economy. Iran is far from being equal to Saudi Arabia”.
It is worth mentioning that Riyadh has slammed a 2015 pact between world powers and Tehran under which economic sanction imposed on Islamic republic were lifted and in return for Iran halting its nuclear energy programme.
US sanctions will remain in effect unless President Donald Trump issues fresh “waivers” to suspend them on May 12.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi gave strong reaction over the statements of Saudi Arabia crown prince, saying Mohammad Bin Salman was a “delusional naive person” who has no idea of politics, Iranian state TV reported on Thursday.
“He has no idea of politics apart from bitter talk that emanates from a lack of foresight … His remarks do not deserve a response, because he is a delusional, naive person, who never talks, but with lies and bitterness,” Qasemi said.
CIVIL Nuclear Programme
In an effort to reduce dependency on oil, the kingdom was also making plans to develop a civilian nuclear energy capability as part of reforms.
According to Arab News, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said in October that the nuclear program would start by building two reactors, each producing between 1.2 and 1.6 gigawatts of electricity.
The world’s top oil exporter has repeatedly said it wants to adopt nuclear technology only for peaceful purposes. The US, South Korea, Russia, France and China are bidding on a multibillion-dollar tender to build the country’s first two nuclear reactors.
On Thursday, Riyadh also approved a national policy for its atomic energy program, including restricting all nuclear activities to peaceful purposes, within the limits defined by international treaties.