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Below is the transcript of a First On CNBC interview with Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. All references must be sourced to a "CNBC Interview'. If you choose to use anything, please attribute to CNBC and Hadley Gamble.
Hadley Gamble [Hadley]: Your Excellency thank you so much for joining CNBC. I want to kick off by asking you to address Iran's foreign minister's comments directly. He essentially suggested that Saudi Arabia would be willing to fight to the last American soldier as well as raising the prospect of an all-out war.
Adel Al Jubeir [Al Jubeir]: That's ridiculous and it's not the first time he said something ridiculous and laughable. Saudi Arabia, the United States, her allies, the attack that Iran conducted was an attack against the whole world not just Saudi Arabia. And now they're trying to justify it they're trying to find ways to create divides. But that's ridiculous.
Hadley: And when you take a step back and think about this kind of international consensus that you're looking for. You said just a few minutes ago that you think that it is the responsibility of the world to protect this region. But isn't that Saudi Arabia's responsibility?
Al Jubeir: Of course it's our responsibility to protect our borders, our people, our residents, our infrastructure. Absolutely. But the world also has a responsibility to make sure that Iran is not allowed to get away with murder and that Iran's aggressive behaviour and destructive behaviour must be checked and the world has a responsibility to ensure the freedom of navigation in the Gulf and in the Arabian Sea so that the global energy supplies are not disrupted. We are committed a lot of our resources to this effort. We have strong defence capabilities in order to deal with these efforts. But it has to be the world community has to take a step in this direction also. One of the things the international community can do is further isolate Iran and extract a price from Iran for its aggressive behaviour.
Hadley: It seems as if the president at least twice has backed down from directly confronting Iran in the last few months. Does it worry you that at the last moment he'll back away?
Al Jubeir: We are in consultations with the U.S. on how to deal with Iran's aggressive behaviour as we are with other allies around the world and I think once the results of the investigation are finalized we will have to make decisions with regards to what steps we need to take to ensure that this doesn't happen again.
Hadley: Walk me through those potential steps because how many diplomatic tools do you really have left in the bag here?
Al Jubeir: There are a number of issues one can take her increased isolation of Iran increased sanctions on Iran. There are other steps that can be taken in other areas. But I will not get into them because it's not my purview nor is it appropriate to discuss any such options before decisions are made.
Hadley: The murder of Jamal Khashoggi has created quite a rift with Saudi - between Saudi Arabia and many of its international partners in particular even with members of the U.S. Congress. How do you plan to get an international consensus on how to tackle the problems of Tehran?
Al Jubeir: What happened to Jamal Khashoggi was a crime. It was a heinous crime. He was murdered by agents of the Saudi government in a Saudi government facility. This was a rogue operation unauthorized. His majesty and the crown prince ordered an investigation. The public prosecutor charged 11 people they are now on trial. The trial has been going on for months. Five of the individuals are charged with the death penalty. The investigation is ongoing. We are looking at putting in place and are putting in place mechanisms in our security services to prevent something like this from happening again. This is what countries do in similar situations. Remember Iran-Contra and Ronald Reagan. Did Ronald Reagan know about Iran-Contra? No he didn't. What did the US do? Investigate? Hold people accountable? Punish people? Put in place procedures to prevent it from happen again. Look at what happened with Abu Ghraib. Did the commander of American forces in Iraq know about it? Did the president know about it? Of course not. This was a rogue operation. There were people investigated. People were charged. People were punished. And procedures were put in place to prevent it from happening again. This is what we're doing in Saudi Arabia and I think when people see the conclusion of the trials all of this will change. Unfortunately charges have been levelled at Saudi Arabia that are left are frankly irrational. You declare somebody innocent until proven guilty not the other way around.
Hadley: There is a deep concern around many in the investment community not just in Saudi Arabia but in the region as a whole about Saudi Arabia's policies particularly now that we've seen these enormous attacks on what is a critical lifeline to the Saudi economy. What's your message to them?
Al Jubeir: Well I have two messages the first message with regards to our regional policies is we've worked hard to bring peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea after 20 years of conflict. We worked hard to improve the relationship between the president of Eritrea and the president of Djibouti. We are working to put together a collection of countries in the Red Sea so that we can deal with issues like environmental issues security issues piracy human trafficking economic development so we can stabilize this region. We are the largest supporter of the G5 forces in the Sahel countries and we are one of the largest if not the largest provider of economic assistance to those countries. So we take on Boko Haram. We are working in terms of trying to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan. We are working with our friends in India and our friends in Pakistan to see how we can calm the situation. We are working very hard with our partners on countering terrorism and extremism. And this is what we're doing externally so we have done a lot to try to stabilize our region. We are working on stabilizing the oil markets and we are doing our domestic reforms which we can talk about later. But with regard to Saudi Aramco I believe the accident that happened was unprecedented. 5.7 million barrels were removed. No event like this had happened in the history of the oil industry. Saudi Aramco because of its superb engineering and superb construction and superb emergency efforts was able to put out the fires one in four hours one in six hours. Within 48 hours they were beginning to resume the production of oil gradually. And by the end of September they will be they will have their back to their production as it was before the attack. This is a record time. In the meantime they were able to fill the gaps by tapping into their strategic petroleum reserve so that the international markets are not affected. No company, no oil company in the world could have done a job like Aramco so if anything this should this I believe will reinforce the bullishness of investors when it comes to Saudi Aramco and its potential IPO.
Hadley: In spite of that quick comeback though that you mentioned that Aramco was able to pull off really in spite of unprecedented attacks. You still have a serious issue which is that Saudi's defences were critically breached and even with the support pledged by the Pentagon in terms of more manpower and more military hardware you can't protect yourself every time. What is the plan to protect Aramco and to protect Saudi Arabia in the face of attacks?
Al Jubeir: I will leave the details to the experts in this area but what I can assure you is that Saudi Arabia is committed to protecting its borders its people its residents its infrastructure and its facilities. The Saudi armed forces have been able to stop 260 ballistic missiles from hitting their targets. No country in the world has been subject to such an attack by ballistic missiles like Saudi Arabia and this speaks very highly about the capabilities and competence of the Saudi military. They have also been able to intercept dozens of drones that were people were trying to fly into Saudi Arabia which also is speaks to the professionalism of the Saudi military. Sometimes you don't succeed. I don't quite believe that the investigation is ongoing with regards to, "could this have been prevented. How could it have been prevented. Are there any issues that we need to deal with." Remember Hadley that the issue of using drones in warfare is a new phenomena and I believe that all the whole world is trying to find ways to deal with this threat. And I am confident that we will be able to.
Hadley: Do you believe that you'll be able to continue to tap the US government in the face of any need?
Al Jubeir: The U.S. government has been very supportive of Saudi Arabia for the past eight years. The US government is our largest provider of military supplies and defensive equipment. The US government is working very closely with us to assess our needs and to fill our needs because the US government is very aware that instability insecurity in the region has a huge impact on the global economy and by extension the US economy.
Hadley: When you take a step back and think about the things that you're hearing from Tehran what is a red line now for Saudi Arabia? Because what they've done potentially is to hit the critical line to the Saudi economy.
Al Jubeir: We hold Iran responsible for the attack. But we are investigating where the launch emanated from. And when the investigation is complete we will consult with our allies and determine what steps we need to take in order with regard to Iran.
Hadley: And finally sir as you head into the U.N. General Assembly next week you're talking about creating an international coalition or an international consensus that this part of the world needs protection but can't you protect yourselves?
Al Jubeir: Yes we can. We can and we are and we are trying to see but when it comes to waterways and international shipping that affects the whole world it has to be an international effort.
Hadley: Are we talking about China. We're talking about other countries that are benefiting from oil supplies that are coming from this region?
Al Jubeir: We're talking to a lot of countries in terms of what contributions they could provide, as the US.
Hadley: Who's standing in your way in terms of that international consensus? Are we talking about countries in Europe like France or Germany who have opened the door to a rapprochement with Iran?
Al Jubeir: Iran probably is trying its best to prevent something like this from happening. The concern we have is that some countries believe that being lax with Iran will make Iran behave better. That hasn't worked in 40 years and will not work. The idea that a parallel financial system can be established so Iran can trade is we believe is a non-starter it's not going to work. The idea that Iran can be offered loans is also we believe appeasement. Every time anybody has appeased Iran in the past 40 years. Iran has used that in order to cause mischief. The message to Iran has to be very clear. Your behaviour of exporting your revolution, your behaviour of supporting terrorist groups and providing them with ballistic missiles and your behaviour interfering in the affairs of other countries must come to an end if you want to become a member of the international community.
Hadley: Your Excellency thank you for joining CNBC.
Al Jubeir Pleasure. Thank you.
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