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MBS: Saudis will pursue nuclear weapons if Iran does

In interview, Saudi Arabia's crown prince says Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 'much like Hitler', wants to create own project.

Mohammad bin Salman

Saudi Arabia's crown prince has announced his country's readiness to develop nuclear weapons in the event that Iran heads in that direction.

The kingdom has expressed alarm at what it views as creeping Iranian influence in the region and has stepped up its efforts to contain what it considers Iran's expansion through proxy conflicts and direct military engagement in Yemen.

"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," Mohammad bin Salman, popularly known as MBS, told US broadcaster CBS in an interview set to air on Sunday.

Bin Salman, 34, reiterated statements made earlier comparing Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to Adolf Hitler.

"He wants to create his own project in the Middle East very much like Hitler, who wanted to expand at the time," the prince told CBS.

"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."

Saudi Arabia has been a staunch critic of the Iran nuclear deal reached in 2015, which it says will alleviate Iran's economic woes and allow it to prop up affiliates like Hezbollah.

Saudi authorities have repeatedly commended US President Donald Trump's tough stance on the Iran nuclear deal.

Mostafa Khoshcheshm, a Tehran-based political commentator, says Iran has been very open about its nuclear programme, adding that it is intended for peaceful purposes only.

"There has never been a shred of evidence all throughout history to accuse Iran of developing a military nuclear programme," he said on Thursday.

"The nuclear deal itself proved that Iran's intentions are peaceful and the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] issued 10 reports to confirm the same fact."

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