Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) said in an exclusive Fox News interview published Wednesday that Saudi Arabia will obtain a nuclear weapon if its number one regional rival does so first.
"If they get one, we have to get one," MbS told Fox's 'Special Report' anchor Bret Baier when asked what the kingdom would do if Iran builds a nuclear weapon.
BREAKING: If Iran gets nuclear weapon, we will get it too, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman says in an interview with Fox News pic.twitter.com/rIpAuBSOWO— Insider Paper (@TheInsiderPaper) September 20, 2023
It marks Riyadh's clearest warning to date related to Iran's alleged nuclear aspirations (though Tehran has long maintained its nuclear program is solely for peaceful nuclear energy purposes).
The blunt statements regarding Saudi Arabia's intentions to go nuclear if the Islamic Republic does were set against a broader discussion about potentially achieving full peace and diplomatic relations with Israel on the basis of the Abraham Accords.
"Every day we get closer," the crown prince said when asked about the recent expanding ties with Israel, which has lately included opening up airspace to Israeli flights for the first time, and exchanging official delegations.
Interestingly, Israel itself is already the region's sole nuclear-armed power, but has never confirmed this openly. MbS' comments on going nuclear reflect the general thinking that Tehran achieving a nuke would set off a broader nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
Despite the tough words of warning from the crown prince, China this summer brokered a detente between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which Beijing hopes will drive a "wave of reconciliation" in the region, particularly along the historic Shia-Sunni religious divide.
As for the potential of full diplomatic relations with Israel, it's been widely reported that Riyadh is asking Washington to allow it to have a nuclear energy program, which would see the Saudis enrich uranium, just like the Iranians currently do.
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