Saudi Arabia’s crown prince has warned that oil prices could spike to “unimaginably high numbers” if the world does not unite to deter Iran’s designs on the region.
Speaking to the CBS program 60 Minutes, Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, also denied that he ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi operatives nearly a year ago, but said he ultimately bore “full responsibility” as the leader of his country.
While Khashoggi’s killing sparked a global uproar, global attention has turned to the kingdom’s arch foe, Iran.
The Trump administration’s is locked in a tense stand-off with Tehran, especially after the September 14 attacks on the heartland of the Saudi oil industry.
While noting he would prefer a political solution to a military one, the crown prince warned “if the world does not take a strong and firm action to deter Iran, we will see further escalations that will threaten world interests”.
“Oil supplies will be disrupted and oil prices will jump to unimaginably high numbers that we haven’t seen in our lifetimes.”
Bin Salman in an interview conducted on Tuesday, said he agreed with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the September 14 attacks, which damaged the world’s largest petroleum-processing facility and knocked out more than 5 per cent of global oil supply, were an act of war by Iran.
“[The attacks] disrupted 5.5% of the world’s energy needs, the needs of the U.S. and China and the whole world,” the Saudi crown prince says about the recent attack on two Saudi oil facilities https://t.co/BiRpnXSxPU pic.twitter.com/fBCzGhyQlJ
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) September 30, 2019
“The political and peaceful solution is much better than the military one,” he said.
The crown prince also said US President Donald Trump should meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to craft a new deal on Tehran’s nuclear program and influence across the Middle East.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have escalated over the US withdrawal from an Iranian nuclear deal and its reinstatement of sanctions against Tehran.
Days before the anniversary of the killing of Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate in Turkey, the crown prince said: “Absolutely not,” when asked if he ordered the murder.
But he said he took full responsibility for the killing, “since it was committed by individuals working for the Saudi government.”
“This was a mistake. And I must take all actions to avoid such a thing in the future,” the crown prince said of the killing, which he called “heinous.”
The CIA and some Western governments have said they believe he ordered it, but Saudi officials have repeatedly said he had no role.
Eleven Saudi suspects have been put on trial in secretive proceedings but only a few hearings have been held.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who had criticised Saudi rulers, was last seen at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.