Thursday, 17 October, 2019

Oil attacks 'unquestionably sponsored by Iran': Saudi Arabia

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a media availability at the State Department June 13 AP Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a media availability at the State Department June 13
Ginger Lawrence | 18 September, 2019, 21:17

Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of "unquestionably" sponsoring the attacks on its oil infrastructure.

Earlier, the Saudi ambassador to London said Iran was nearly certainly behind the attacks on an oil processing facility and an oil field that cut the Kingdom's oil production by half.

"Iran's strategic policy is to reduce tensions. through dialog, but the country is fully prepared to surprise aggressors through a crushing and comprehensive answer to possible evil actions", the Etemad daily newspaper quoted Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani as saying.

Following US allegations against Iran regarding involvement in attacks against two oil facilities of Saudi Arabia, Tehran has sent a political note to the American side. He said the drones fired long-range missiles and warned the United Arab Emirates that it could be also be targeted. France has been trying to find a diplomatic solution to the tensions between Iran and the USA, so any conclusion they draw could be used to show what a third-party assessed happened.

The news conference by Saudi military spokesman Col.

Iran vehemently denies the claim.

After the attacks, US President Donald Trump said the White House believed it knew the culprit of the strikes, and the US military was "locked and loaded" to take action.

"Iran has not been behind the Aramco incidents, and we deny it (any involvement)", read the letter.

The Islamic Republic dismissed the allegations.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was to travel to NY on Friday, with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani following Monday, according to the agency. "We want to find definitively who did this".

Trump said he is not looking to meet Rouhani during a United Nations event in NY this month.

- Saudi Arabia's oil minister said that flows through the country's pipeline to Bahrain were being restarted.

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A switch in allegiance would be a prize for Beijing in its campaign to secure allies from democratic Taiwan. The Communist Party-controlled Global Times said on social media that Taiwan was now all but isolated.

While one Saudi security analyst said the attack "is like September 11 for Saudi Arabia, it is a game changer". Iraq and Iran are to the north of Saudi Arabia across the Persian Gulf.

France, which is trying to salvage an global nuclear deal with Iran that Washington quit previous year, said it wanted to establish the facts before reacting.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation chief Jens Stoltenberg told AFP in Baghdad on Monday that he was "extremely concerned" about escalating tensions following the attacks, and accused Iran of "destabilising" the region.

But a senior United States administration official cast doubt on that claim, saying that while the Houthis said they used 10 drones, one Saudi oil facility was hit "at least 17 times", and another twice by "precision-guided munitions".

The officials did not provide evidence or explain what USA intelligence they were using for evaluating the attack. Oil prices spiked Monday, with benchmark Brent crude having the biggest percentage gain since the 1991 Gulf War.

A U.S. official told Reuters the strikes originated in southwest Iran.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also discussed the weekend attacks by phone with Salman on Wednesday, the Kremlin said.

"Iran has a long history of testing its strength".

Trump began that campaign after unilaterally pulling out of a 2015 global deal meant to reward Iran for allowing restrictions on its nuclear industry.

He said: "Increasingly, looking at the intelligence sources we have, it seems that is the case". Rouhani and his foreign minister may not attend the General Assembly at all unless US visas are issued in the coming hours, state media reported on Wednesday.

The UAE is a leading partner in a Saudi-led coalition that intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to restore Hadi's government after it was toppled by the Houthis in late 2014.