Photo by Bandar Algaloud / Saudi Kingdom Council / Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told CBS that Saudi Arabia is prepared to enter an arms race if Iran were to develop nuclear weapons, reports Reuters.

"Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.”
— Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Iran's response: “He has no idea of politics apart from bitter talk that emanates from a lack of foresight...His remarks do not deserve a response, because he is a delusional, naive person, who never talks but with lies and bitterness,” said Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bahram Qasemi.

Why it matters: The two states have had no diplomatic relations since 2016, and have consistently backed rival sides in armed conflicts and political crises. Nuclear proliferation would bring instability in the region to new heights, with offshoot implications for Israel — the only country in the Middle East currently believed to possess a nuclear arsenal.

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Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Danielle Alberti, Sara Wise/Axios

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