The next leader of Saudi Arabia says his country would quickly obtain a nuclear bomb if arch rival Iran successfully develops its own nuclear weapon. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made the statement about a possible nuclear arms race in the Middle East to “CBS This Morning” co-host Norah O’Donnell, in an interview set to air on this Sunday’s “60 Minutes.”
The interview is the first with a Saudi leader for a U.S. television network since 2005. O’Donnell, a contributing correspondent for “60 Minutes,” asked the 32-year-old crown prince about the political, economic and social reforms unfolding in his kingdom.
The heir to the throne has ushered in significant changes for women in the conservative Sunni Muslim kingdom, including granting them the right to drive for the first time. The crown prince discussed foreign policy, including his views on Saudi Arabia’s longtime foe, Shiite Muslim-ruled Iran.
Below is a preview of O’Donnell’s conversation with the crown prince, and above is a clip in which Mohammed explains why, in his view, Iran’s supreme leader is behaving like Adolf Hitler during the rise of Nazi Germany.
NORAH O’DONNELL: You’ve been rivals for centuries. At its heart, what is this rift about? Is it a battle for Islam?
MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN: Iran is not a rival to Saudi Arabia. Its army is not among the top five armies in the Muslim world. The Saudi economy is larger than the Iranian economy. Iran is far from being equal to Saudi Arabia.
O’DONNELL: But I’ve seen that you called the Ayatollah Khamenei, “the new Hitler” of the Middle East.
MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN: Absolutely.
MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN: Because he wants to expand. He wants to create his own project in the Middle East very much like Hitler who wanted to expand at the time. 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.
O’DONNELL: Does Saudi Arabia need nuclear weapons to counter Iran?
MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN: 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.
For the full interview, tune in to “60 Minutes” on Sunday, March 18 at 7 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.