Saudi crown prince says war with Iran would gut world economy

Updated September 30, 2019

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Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaks with correspondent Norah O'Donnell during an interview on Tuesday with the CBS program "60 Minutes," in Saudi Arabia, in this handout photo released on September 29. — CBSNews/60Minutes/Handout via Reuters
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaks with correspondent Norah O'Donnell during an interview on Tuesday with the CBS program "60 Minutes," in Saudi Arabia, in this handout photo released on September 29. — CBSNews/60Minutes/Handout via Reuters
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaks with correspondent Norah O'Donnell during an interview on Tuesday with the CBS program "60 Minutes," in Saudi Arabia, in this handout photo released on September 29. — CBSNews/60Minutes/Handout via Reuters
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaks with correspondent Norah O'Donnell during an interview on Tuesday with the CBS program "60 Minutes," in Saudi Arabia, in this handout photo released on September 29. — CBSNews/60Minutes/Handout via Reuters

Saudi Arabia's crown prince said in an interview aired on Sunday that war with Iran would devastate the global economy and he prefers a non-military solution to tensions with his regional rival.

"If the world does not take a strong and firm action to deter Iran, we will see further escalations that will threaten world interests," Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ─ known as MBS for short ─ told the CBS program "60 Minutes".

"Oil supplies will be disrupted and oil prices will jump to unimaginably high numbers that we haven't seen in our lifetimes," the crown prince said.

MBS said a war between Saudi Arabia and Iran would be catastrophic for the world economy.

"The region represents about 30 per cent of the world's energy supplies, about 20 per cent of global trade passages, about four per cent of the world GDP. Imagine all of these three things stop," he said.

"This means a total collapse of the global economy, and not just Saudi Arabia or the Middle East countries."

MBS said a September 14 attack on Saudi oil facilities, which his country and the US blamed on Iran, had been senseless.

"There is no strategic goal. Only a fool would attack five per cent of global supplies. The only strategic goal is to prove that they are stupid and that is what they did," said the crown prince.

He was asked point-blank if he ordered the killing and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October last year.

"Absolutely not. This was a heinous crime. But I take full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia, especially since it was committed by individuals working for the Saudi government," he said.

Read: I get all the responsibility because it happened under my watch: MBS on Khashoggi murder

"When a crime is committed against a Saudi citizen by officials, working for the Saudi government, as a leader I must take responsibility. This was a mistake."

Body never found

MBS, the kingdom's de facto ruler, has come under huge international pressure after the US-based writer was killed and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Khashoggi's body was never found.

The crown prince has said the killing was carried out without his knowledge.

Riyadh has repeatedly denied that the crown prince was behind the murder of Khashoggi — a royal family insider turned critic and a US resident — who was killed in what Saudi authorities have described as a rogue operation.

A report by a UN human rights expert, who conducted an independent probe, said there was "credible evidence" linking the crown prince to the murder and an attempted cover up.

The CIA has also reportedly said the killing was likely ordered by MBS.

But Saudi prosecutors have absolved the crown prince and said around two dozen people implicated in the murder are in custody, with death penalties sought against five men.