DONALD Trump has declared the US is “locked and loaded” after the drone attacks on the world’s largest oil plants in Saudi Arabia.
The US President said “we know the culprit”, but he is waiting on Riyadh to determine who launched the strikes before proceeding on a course of action.
US officials have released images showing damage to Saudi Aramco’s Khurais oil field[/caption]
Iran has dismissed accusations by the US that it was behind Saturday’s strikes on Saudi oil plants which has cut into global energy supplies.
But an Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander has warned the US it is “ready for a fully-fledged war”, saying American bases are “within range of our missiles”.
Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group has already claimed responsibility for the attacks, that knocked out more than half of Saudi’s oil output.
But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said there was no evidence the attacks came from Yemen and accused Iran of “an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.”
Pompeo urged overnight: “We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran’s attacks.
“The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression.”
His tweets prompted a war of words, with Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi, dismissing the American claim as “pointless” on state TV.
And, a senior Revolutionary Guards commander warned that the Islamic Republic was ready for a “full-fledged” war and that US military assets were within range of Iranian missiles.
Amirali Hajizadeh, head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps Aerospace Force, told Tasnim news agency: “Everybody should know that all American bases and their aircraft carriers in a distance of up to 2,000km around Iran are within the range of our missiles.”
WHO IS TO BLAME?
Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group said it had attacked two plants at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry.
Houthi rebels in neighbouring Yemen yesterday claimed responsibility for the pre-dawn drone strikes.
The assault follows earlier cross-border attacks on Saudi oil installations and on oil tankers in Gulf waters.
But, Pompeo rejected the claim, saying there was no evidence the attacks came from Yemen, where a Saudi-led military coalition has been battling the Houthis for over four years in a conflict widely seen as a proxy war between regional rivals Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran.
Some Iraqi media outlets said the attack originated from Iraq, where Iran-backed paramilitary groups have wielded increasing power.
But Iraq denied this on Sunday and vowed to punish anyone who intended to use Iraq as a launchpad for attacks in the region.
The Wall Street Journal said that Saudi and US officials are probing the possibility that the strikes involved cruise missiles launched from Iran or Iraq.
‘READY FOR WAR’
Saudi de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told US President Donald Trump on Saturday that Riyadh was willing and able to deal with the “terrorist aggression”.
Turkey, an ally of Iran, condemned the drone assault.
But its foreign ministry recommended avoiding “all sorts of provocative steps” that could damage regional security and stability.
A senior Emirati official said the UAE, Riyadh’s main partner in the Western-backed military coalition in Yemen, would fully support Saudi Arabia as the assault “targets us all”.
The UAE has recently scaled down its military presence, leaving Riyadh to try to neutralise the Houthis to prevent Iran from gaining influence along its border.
IMPACT ON OIL
State-run oil company Saudi Aramco said the strikes would cut output by 5.7million barrels per day, or more than five per cent of global crude supply, at a time when Aramco is gearing up for a stock market listing.
Aramco gave no timeline for when output would resume but said early Sunday it would give a progress update in around 48 hours.
A source close to the matter told Reuters the return to full oil capacity could take “weeks, not days”.
The kingdom, the world’s top oil exporter, ships more than seven million barrels of oil to global destinations every day, and for years has served as the supplier of last resort to markets.
America said it was ready to tap its emergency oil reserves if needed after the attack on two oil plants, including the world’s biggest petroleum processing facility in Abqaiq.
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