In the event that Iran manages to acquire a nuclear weapon, Saudi Arabia will actively pursue obtaining one as well, as declared by the nation’s crown prince on Wednesday. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman expressed his profound “concern” regarding the prospect of a nuclear Iran, a long-standing adversary of Saudi Arabia, during a comprehensive interview with Fox News anchor Bret Baier.
Crown Prince Salman articulated his apprehension, stating, “Well, we are apprehensive about any country acquiring a nuclear weapon. It’s an unwise course of action.” He emphasized the futility of possessing such a weapon, highlighting, “You don’t require a nuclear weapon because even if you possess one, it cannot be employed.”
Moreover, the crown prince contended that if Iran were to acquire a nuclear weapon and its autocratic regime opted to employ it, the nation would promptly find itself embroiled in a conflict with “the entire world.” Salman expressed, “The world cannot bear witness to another Hiroshima. If the world witnesses a death toll of 100,000, it signifies that the world is in a state of war with the rest of the globe.”
Despite characterizing the pursuit of nuclear weaponry as a “pointless endeavor,” Salman cautioned that his country would embark on the path of developing such formidable technology if Iran succeeded in constructing or procuring a nuclear warhead. He issued a stark warning, citing “security considerations” and the necessity to “balance power in the Middle East.” Nevertheless, he appended, “But we do not aspire to witness that.”
Relations between Riyadh and Tehran have experienced a degree of improvement since a diplomatic accord mediated by China in March reestablished ties between the two Middle Eastern nations. Salman commented on the deal, stating, “We did not choose China; China opted to mediate and make it materialize.” Some have interpreted this agreement as a symbol of Beijing’s burgeoning global influence and the diminishing influence of the United States under the Biden administration.
Subsequent to the China-mediated agreement, President Biden, who had criticized Salman during his 2020 presidential campaign and threatened that Saudi Arabia would “pay the price” and be isolated over the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, has been striving to broker a similar agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, aiming to normalize relations between these two Middle Eastern powers. Salman expressed optimism about the ongoing negotiations, remarking, “Every day we approach, it appears to be the first genuinely serious one.”
The crown prince underscored the significance of the Palestinian issue, stating, “For us, the Palestinian issue holds great importance.” He emphasized the necessity for concessions to be extended to Palestinians as part of any prospective framework for agreements. “We need to resolve that aspect, and constructive negotiations are ongoing. We must wait and see where we progress. We hope to reach a point that enhances the lives of Palestinians and incorporates Israel as a participant in the Middle East.”
Addressing the brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi within the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, an act the CIA reportedly attributed to the crown prince, Salman declared that “anyone implicated” in the murder has been incarcerated and must “face legal consequences.” He affirmed, “We have taken all the legal steps that any nation would undertake… We have addressed this within Saudi Arabia, and the case has been closed.” Furthermore, he conveyed efforts to reform the security system to prevent such incidents from recurring, noting that in the past five years, there has been no reoccurrence of such occurrences, emphasizing that this is not representative of Saudi Arabia’s practices.
Salman also acknowledged the presence of “problematic laws” in his kingdom, occasionally leading to the sentencing of dissidents to death. However, he asserted that his cabinet is diligently engaged in reforming Saudi Arabia’s judicial system according to established procedures.