WASHINGTON, Sept 29 (Reuters) -
Saudi Arabia's crown prince warned in an interview broadcast on Sunday that oil prices could spike to "unimaginably high numbers" if the world does not come together to deter Iran, but said he would prefer a political solution to a military one.
Speaking to the CBS program "60 Minutes," Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler, also denied that he ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi operatives nearly a year ago, but said he ultimately bears "full responsibility" as the leader of his country.
While Khashoggi's death sparked a global uproar and tarnished the crown prince's reputation, the Trump administration's tense standoff with Iran, Saudi Arabia's arch-foe, has more recently dominated U.S. policy toward Riyadh, especially after the Sept. 14 attacks on the heartland of the Saudi oil industry.
"If the world does not take a strong and firm action to deter Iran, we will see further escalations that will threaten world interests," the crown prince said. "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, in an interview conducted on Tuesday in Saudi Arabia, said he agreed with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the Sept. 14 attacks, which damaged the world's biggest petroleum-processing facility and knocked out more than 5% of global oil supply, were an act of war by Iran.
But he said he preferred a peaceful resolution because a war between Saudi Arabia and Iran would collapse the global economy. The United States, European powers and Saudi Arabia have blamed the attacks on Iran. Tehran has denied any involvement. Instead, the Iran-aligned Yemeni Houthi rebel group claimed responsibility.
"The political and peaceful solution is much better than the military one," he said.
The crown prince also said U.S. President Donald Trump should meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to craft a new deal on Tehran's nuclear program and influence across the Middle East.
Efforts to bring the two together last week at the United Nations General Assembly failed. Tensions between Washington and Tehran have escalated over the U.S. withdrawal from an Iranian nuclear deal and its reinstatement of sanctions against Tehran.