RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will develop nuclear weapons if Iran does so, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told CBS 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.
Crown Prince Mohammed said he has referred to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as “the new Hitler” because “he wants to expand.”
“He wants to create his own project in the Middle East, very much like Hitler who wanted to expand at the time,” the crown prince said.
“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.”
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.”
Riyadh has criticized the 2015 deal between world powers and Tehran under which economic sanctions on Iran were lifted in return for the Islamic Republic curbing its nuclear energy program. US sanctions will resume unless President Donald Trump issues fresh “waivers” to suspend them on May 12.
Saudi Arabia is stepping up plans to develop a civilian nuclear energy capability as part of a reform plan led by the crown prince to reduce the economy’s dependence on oil.
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 nuclear technology only for peaceful uses. The US, South Korea, Russia, France and China are bidding on a multibillion-dollar tender to build the country’s first two nuclear reactors.
Riyadh also approved a national policy for its atomic energy program on Tuesday, including restricting all nuclear activities to peaceful purposes, within the limits defined by international treaties.