Saudi crown prince warns of ‘unimaginably high’ oil prices amid tensions with Iran
Mohammed bin Salman also denied any involvement in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de-facto ruler of the country, on Sunday warned that oil prices could skyrocket to “unimaginably high numbers” because of tensions with Iran, CBS reported.
“If the world does not take a strong and firm action to deter Iran, we will see further escalations that will threaten world interests,” Salman told CBS in its “60 Minutes” show. “Oil supplies will be disrupted and oil prices will jump to unimaginably high numbers that we haven’t seen in our lifetimes.”
Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran escalated dramatically this month after drone attacks on two Saudi oil facilities on September 14. It caused a massive disruption of oil supply and a temporary spike in prices.
Iran has denied any involvement in the strikes. Its allies in Yemen’s civil war, the Houthi movement, claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Salman said he would prefer a political solution over a military one. He warned that a war between the two countries would have devastating consequences far beyond the region.
“The region represents about 30% of the world’s energy supplies, about 20% of global trade passages, about 4% of the world GDP,” he said. “Imagine all of these three things stop. This means a total collapse of the global economy, and not just Saudi Arabia or the Middle East countries.”
United States President Donald Trump has said it looked as if Iran, which has a long history of friction with neighbour Saudi Arabia, was behind the attacks. Salman in the interview said that he agreed with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the attacks on were “an act of war”.
He also said there was no strategic reason behind the attacks by Iran. “Only a fool would attack 5% of global supplies,” Salman said. “The only strategic goal is to prove that they are stupid and that is what they did.”
The crown prince also said Trump should meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and should “absolutely” negotiate a new deal on Tehran’s nuclear programme.
Jamal Khashoggi murder
Salman also spoke about the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and denied any involvement. “Absolutely not”, he said 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.”
Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, was killed in October 2018 at the Saudi consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul, by men that Riyadh claimed were rogue operatives. Salman is suspected of having ordered the assassination.
Salman lamented the murder of Khashoggi as a “heinous crime”. “This was a mistake,” he added. “And I must take all actions to avoid such a thing in the future.”
When questioned how the killing could take place without his knowledge, he said: “Some think that I should know what 3 million people working for the Saudi government do daily? It’s impossible that the 3 million would send their daily reports to the leader or the second-highest person in the Saudi government.”
He also said that if there were any information implicating him in the crime, it should be brought forward publicly. “Today the investigations are being carried out. And once charges are proven against someone, regardless of their rank, it will be taken to court, no exception made,” the crown prince said.
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