DONALD Trump has accused Iran of telling another “very big lie” as Saudi Arabia says Tehran WAS responsible for drone attacks that have rocked global oil supplies.
The President’s comments on Monday came hours after he warned the US military was “locked and loaded” – responding to Tehran’s warning it was “ready for fully-fledged wars” in the wake of the Saturday strikes.
Images show damage to Saudi Aramco’s Abqaiq oil processing facility in Buqyaq, Saudi Arabia[/caption]
Tehran has denied masterminding the cruise missile and drone strikes on its archenemy Saudi Arabia, which have caused oil prices to rocket by 20 per cent — the largest ever increase.
But Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group has already claimed responsibility and promised more attacks.
The two Aramco sites struck – the world’s biggest petroleum facility and a nearby oilfield – account for around 50 per cent of Saudi Arabia’s oil output, or five per cent of daily global oil production.
‘A VERY BIG LIE’
Trump cited Tehran shooting down an American drone in the Strait of Hormuz it claimed was flying over American airspace as an example of Iran’s “deceit”.
He tweeted: “Remember when Iran shot down a drone, saying knowingly that it was in their “airspace” when, in fact, it was nowhere close.
“They stuck strongly to that story knowing that it was a very big lie.
“Now they say that they had nothing to do with the attack on Saudi Arabia. We’ll see?”
Trump also said that even the authorisation he provided on Sunday evening for the release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was inadequate to prevent an oil and gas shortage in the US.
However, US energy secretary Rick Perry downplayed the threat, saying it would be “premature” to put American oil on the market until the Saudis had assessed the damage.
‘LOCKED AND LOADED’
The Vice President’s chief of staff, Marc Short, also argued that a previous tweet by Trump had been misinterpreted.
He said “locked and loaded” was not a military warning, but rather referring to the fact that the US was “safer and more secure domestically from energy independence” since Trump came to power.
Trump had tweeted: “Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!”
Earlier today US officials confirmed cruise missiles were used in the attacks. Up to 20 drones were also thought to be involved, with some of the unmanned craft powered by jet engines.
A source speaking on condition of anonymity said: “There’s no doubt that Iran is responsible for this.
“No matter how you slice it, there’s no escaping it. There’s no other candidate.”
Randy Larsen, a former professor and department head at the US military’s National War College, told Bloomberg: “This has the potential to be as significant as Pearl Harbour.”
The sheer scale of the attack may spark war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Both nations have been enemies for decades and are fighting a number of proxy wars, including in Yemen where Saudi forces have been fighting against the Iranian backed Houthis for four years.
This has the potential to be as significant as Pearl Harbour
Military expert Randy Larsen
Overall tension in the oil-producing Gulf region has dramatically escalated this year after Trump imposed severe sanctions on Iran aimed at halting its oil exports altogether in a bid to shut down its nuclear weapons programme.
In June Iran’s ruthless Revolutionary Guard was blamed for attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
Iran seized the British flagged Stena Impero on July 19 shortly after the UK detained a vessel in Gibraltar that was allegedly carrying Iranian crude oil to Syria.
Officials said the photos show impacts consistent with the attack coming from the direction of Iran or Iraq[/caption]
US officials have released images showing damage to Saudi Aramco’s Khurais oil field in Saudi Arabia[/caption]
The drone attack has underscored fears raised by US security experts about the rapid evolution of unmanned aircraft, which are relatively cheap to make and are effective.
Notably the drones were able to pierce Saudi Arabia high tech air defences.
But cruise missiles were said to have been used too, which underlines huge advances in Iranian weapons technology.
Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard force said last night it was prepared for a “full-scale war”.
The commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ aerospace arm, Amirali Hajizadeh, bragged that Iran’s missiles could hit US bases and ships within a range of 1,240 miles.
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Meanwhile US President Donald Trump tweeted his military was “locked and loaded”.
War between Iran and Saudi Arabia is likely be vicious and cause major disruption to global fuel supplies.
The Saudi attack alone caused the biggest jump in prices ever.
Saul Kavonic, an energy analyst at Credit Suisse Group, said: “We have never seen a supply disruption and price response like this in the oil market.
“Political risk premium are now back on the oil market agenda.”
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