Saudi Arabia will not hesitate to confront regional threats, the country's powerful crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has said in an interview published days after the US accused Iran of attacking two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
"The kingdom does not want war in the region, but we will not hesitate to deal with any threat to our people, our sovereignty and our vital interests." Salman told influential pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat.
In the interview released Sunday, the Crown Prince owed Saudi Arabia's bow rival Iran and its agents to carry out "sabotage" to four tankers near Fujairah's port, including two Saudi airlines, last month.
The attacks on two oil tankers near the strategic Hormuz strike earlier this week encountered fears of a wider conflict in the region. Iran has denied any role in the episodes.
The United States claims that Iran used limpet mines to target tankers. The Japanese owner of the tanker later said it was hit by a flying projectile, which opposed reports from US officials and the military on the source.
The explosions occurred while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in Iran's capital Tehran trying to help ease rising tensions between the US and Iran.
"The Iranian regime did not respect the Japanese Prime Minister's visit to Tehran, and while he was there, he responded to his efforts by attacking two tankers, one of which was Japanese," said Salman al-Awsat. 1
Salman, who is also Defense Minister and oversees all the great forces in the country, said recent events in the region underline the importance of the kingdom's demands on the international community to take "a company against Iran."
" The election is clear for Iran, "said the Crown Prince in the interview, where the helm of Tehran was ratcheting. "Do you want to be a normal state with a constructive role in the international community, or do you want to remain a rogue state?"
Salman's government is facing a coalition involved in a bloody, four-year war with Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen, which has led to one of the world's largest humanitarian crises.
Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of arming the Houthiserne, who claimed responsibility for a missile strike at a Saudi Arabian airport in the city of Abha, that the kingdom said wounded 26 passengers last week. Houthiserne also carried out a drone strike last month on a key Saudi oil pipeline.
Salman said Saudi Arabia will continue its business in Yemen and support its people "in their quest to protect their independence and sovereignty." The crown prince also touched on other topics, such as the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year, which he called "a very painful crime."
The death of the Washington Post author, a prolonged Saudi insider who became a critic of Salman caused international rebellion and left the Crown Prince's reformist image in tatters. US intelligence has said it was unthinkable that bin Salman had no connection with the journalist's killing.
The Crown Prince told Al-Awsat that the Kingdom is seeking "full justice and accountability" in Khashoggi's murder.
Associated Press contributed.