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Saudi Crown Prince, on U.S. Visit, Urges Tough Line on Iran

The United States and other world powers reached a 2015 agreement with Iran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions on the country. However, some American officials, including President Trump, have criticized the agreement and threatened to repeal it.

Prince Mohammed accused Iran of seeking to acquire nuclear weapons so that it could act freely in the Middle East without fear of retribution.

“We know the target of Iran,” he said. “If they have a nuclear weapon, it’s a shield for them to let them do whatever they want in the Middle East, to make sure that no one attacks them or they will use their nuclear weapons.”

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Saudi Crown Prince, on U.S. Visit, Urges Tough Line on Iran
Saudi Crown Prince, on U.S. Visit, Urges Tough Line on Iran

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He said that the current nuclear agreement should be replaced with one that would ensure that Iran never obtained a nuclear weapon while also addressing Iran’s other activities in the Middle East.

Prince Mohammed sought to paint a positive picture of Saudi progress in the war in Yemen. He claimed that the Houthis, the Iranian-aligned militia that took over the capital, Sana, in 2014, were increasingly isolated politically.

He dismissed the seven missiles the Houthis fired at Saudi Arabia from Yemen on Sunday as “a last-ditch effort” that only showed they were weak.

Saudi Arabia, he said, is now seeking to end the war through a political process, trying to divide the Houthis and maintaining military pressure on them.

Prince Mohammed also spoke about his efforts to change Saudi Arabia’s religious rhetoric to ensure greater openness toward other faiths. Saudi Arabia has long been known as the homeland of Wahhabism, an ultraconservative interpretation of Islam that imposes strict social rules and often looks down on non-Muslims.

“I believe Islam is hijacked,” Prince Mohammed said, criticizing the way he said that groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorist organizations like the Islamic State and Al Qaeda had distorted the religion.

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