Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gestures during a military parade.
(photo credit: SAUDI PRESS AGENCY/REUTERS)
If Iran develops a nuclear bomb, Saudi Arabia will “follow suit as soon as possible,” Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman said in a CBS interview that will be aired on Sunday.
Muhammad also said that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s behavior in the Middle East is akin to that of Hitler.
“He wants to expand,” the crown prince said. “He 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.”
Muhammad’s comments about the world not recognizing the Iranian threat are similar to ones Netanyahu has made about Iran.
For instance, at the Munich Security Conference last month, Netanyahu said that while Iran is not Nazi Germany, there are “striking similarities. Iran openly declares its intention to annihilate Israel with its six million Jews – it makes absolutely no bones about it. Iran seeks to dominate our region, the Middle East, and seeks to dominate the world through aggression and terror.”
The prince dismissed the notion that Iran is a rival to Saudi Arabia, saying the countries were essentially not in the same league.
“Iran is not a rival to Saudi Arabia,” he said. “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.”
Muhammad’s comment about his country developing a nuclear weapon if Iran does comes just a week after Netanyahu said in New York that the only way to prevent the Middle East from turning into a tinderbox of nuclear-armed countries is to deny Iran the right to enrich uranium.
Netanyahu said he was asked in Washington about Israel’s position on the request of other Mideast countries to enrich uranium. He said these countries have been asking for this right since Iran received it “under the dubious nuclear agreement.”
“The best way to prevent the nuclearization of the Middle East is to either fully fix the Iranian deal or to fully nix it. This is the only way to prevent the inevitable spread of nuclear technology and nuclear weapons in the Middle East,” he said.
In meetings in Washington last week both with President Donald Trump and with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Netanyahu came out against a deal that would allow US companies to build as many as 16 nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia – because of the concern that this could ultimately enable Saudi Arabia to enrich the uranium needed for nuclear weapons.
The Prime Minister’s Office had no comment Thursday on Muhammad’s statement.