Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman doubled down on his views that Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is “the new Hitler” and stated that, while his country “does not want to acquire” nuclear weapons, “if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.”
The crown prince’s remarks came in a preview for a “60 Minutes” interview that will air Sunday on CBS.
Crown Prince Mohammed first called the Ayatollah “the new Hitler of the Middle East" in a November interview with the New York Times.
Iran’s foreign ministry responded, calling the prince's remarks “immature, inconsiderate, and baseless remarks and behavior."
The ministry’s spokesman said, "I strongly advise him to think and ponder upon the fate of the famous dictators of the region in the past few years now that he is thinking of considering their policies and behavior as a role model.”
For the “60 Minutes” interview, “CBS This Morning” anchor Norah O’Donnell asked Crown Prince Mohammed to clarify his remarks. He explained that he “absolutely” stood by what he said about the Ayatollah.
“Because he wants to expand," Crown Prince Mohammed said. "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.”
The interview will air just two days before the 32-year-old crown prince is scheduled to meet with President Donald Trump. He is the first Saudi leader to sit down for an interview with an American television news network since 2005.
Since he replaced his cousin as crown prince in June 2017, Crown Prince Mohammed has been solidifying his hold on power. In what has been referred to as an “anti-corruption” campaign, he has had 11 other Saudi princes arrested, as well as several other prominent Saudi citizens.
NBC News also reported that he has kept his mother from seeing his father, which U.S. officials believed was because she opposed his power grab.
He has also sworn to end his kingdom’s “addiction” to oil, and has been credited as being the force behind the king’s move to grant women the right to drive for the first time in Saudi Arabia’s history.