Saudi crown prince warns of ‘Iran threat’ to global oil

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Saudi Arabia’s crown prince has warned that oil prices could rise to “unimaginably high numbers” if the world does not act to deter Iran.

Mohammed bin Salman said a war between Saudi Arabia and Iran would ruin the global economy, following an attack on its oil facilities two weeks ago it blames on Tehran.

Speaking to CBS News, he also said he accepted some responsibility for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

But he denied personally ordering it.

The prince, who is considered the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, is suspected of personally targeting Mr Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist critical of the government in Riyadh.

Mr Khashoggi was killed in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Turkey on 2 October 2018.

In an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes news programme, he said: “I take full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia.”

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However, he denied ordering the killing of Mr Khashoggi directly, or having knowledge of it at the time.

The mysterious death piled scrutiny on Saudi Arabia, which released conflicting information regarding his disappearance in the aftermath.

Saudi authorities have since blamed a “rogue” operation for his murder and put 11 men on trial.

What about the crown prince’s oil warning?

Iran has denied any involvement in the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities.

But the heir to the Saudi throne and the country’s de facto ruler said: “If the world does not take a strong and firm action to deter Iran, we will see further escalations that will threaten world interests.”

“Oil supplies will be disrupted and oil prices will jump to unimaginably high numbers that we haven’t seen in our lifetimes.”

He said the Middle East region “represents about 30% of the world’s energy supplies, about 20% of global trade passages, about 4% of the world GDP”.

“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,” the prince said.

And what about the drone attacks?

Saudi Arabia says 18 drones and seven cruise missiles were fired on the country’s two oil facilities in Abqaid and Aramco on 14 September.

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebels have said they are behind the attacks.

But Saudi Arabia as well the US, a key ally, blame Iran for the strikes that knocked out about 5% of global oil supply and sent oil prices soaring.

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US President Donald Trump has warned that Washington has “many options” in response, including an “ultimate option”.

What’s the background to all this?

Iran is the regional rival of Saudi Arabia and an opponent of the US, which pulled out of a treaty aimed at limiting Tehran’s nuclear programme after Mr Trump took power.

US-Iran tensions have risen markedly this year.

The US said Iran was behind attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf in June and July, as well as on another four in May.

Tehran rejected the accusations in both cases.

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