Saudi Crown Prince Says to Develop Nuclear Bomb if Iran Does

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"In absolute monarchies controlled by a ruling family like Saudi Arabia, it's hard to tell what is actually going on inside these power shifts", Brian Katulis, a senior fellow for national security at the Center for American Progress, told NBC.

With regard to Iranian military and economic prowess, the crown prince asserted: "Iran's military isn't one of the Muslim world's top five militaries, while the Saudi economy is bigger than the Iranian economy".

The policy announcement comes ahead of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's visit to the United States on March 19-22, which is likely to see efforts to reach a civilian nuclear cooperation accord with Washington.

"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", the Crown Prince told CBS.

In recent years, tensions have escalated over the wars in Syria and Yemen.

Saudi Arabia and Iran have always been rivals in the Middle East. The "waivers" suspending sanctions are to expire in May.

He also explained why, in November, he called Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei "the new Hitler of the Middle East".

It has never joined the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and has said it would consider inspections and controls under the NPT only if was at peace with its Arab neighbors and Iran.

Saudi Arabia has not been known to seek nuclear weapons, but its cabinet this week approved a policy for a new atomic energy program.

Negotiations are underway with the United States for its agreement to export technology needed for their construction.

"Iran is not a rival to Saudi Arabia".

The government approved a national policy for its atomic energy program on Tuesday, including limiting all nuclear activities to peaceful purposes, within the limits defined by global treaties.

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