Getting nukes would be “a bad move,” but Riyadh might have no other choice, Mohammed bin Salman says.
If Iran were to obtain nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia would be forced to do the same, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said in an interview with Fox News, extracts of which were published on Wednesday.
“Any country getting a nuclear weapon – that’s a bad move,” the Crown Prince, widely referred to as MBS, replied when was asked how Riyadh would respond if Tehran became a nuclear power.
“Even if Iran gets a nuclear weapon… any country using a nuclear weapon, that means they’re having a war with the rest of the world,” he said.
Global powers will come up with a joint response because “the world can’t see another Hiroshima. If the world sees 100,000 people dead – you are in a war with the rest of the world,” the Crown Prince explained.
The Saudi royal was referring to the atomic bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the US in August 1945. The two incidents, carried out in the space of four days, remain the only use of nuclear weapons in a conflict.
The Fox News journalist pressed MBS for a more direct answer on nuclear arms, asking: “If Iran get one, will you?”
“If they get one, we have to get one,” bin Salman responded.
Iran, which remains under harsh international sanctions over its nuclear program, has repeatedly denied claims by the US, Israel and other countries that it is seeking to develop atomic weapons.
During his speech at the UN on Tuesday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi reiterated that Tehran will never give up its right “to have peaceful nuclear energy.” However, he stressed that “nuclear weapons have no place in the defensive doctrine and the military doctrine” of Iran.
Raisi also said the country was eager to return to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which envisaged the lifting of sanctions in exchange for Tehran limiting its nuclear activities. The unilateral withdrawal of the US from the landmark deal under President Donald Trump was “an inappropriate response” to Iran’s fulfilment of its obligations as part of JCPOA, he insisted.
Longtime rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran have recently seen a rapprochement, restoring diplomatic ties after a seven-year break in March, through Chinese mediation.