IRAN’S Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s “fingerprints” were all over the Saudi oil plant blitz which satellite images show his henchmen preparing a launch site, it claimed.
US officials say they have damming evidence which exposes Iran as the culprit rather than technologically backward rebels in Yemen.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last night called the “unprecedented”attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil installations an “act of war” against the kingdom by Iran.
He said: “The U.S. stands with Saudi Arabia and supports its right to defend itself.
“The Iranian regime’s threatening behaviour will not be tolerated.”
It came as the Saudis displayed missile and drone wreckage and cited other evidence they said shows the raid was “unquestionably sponsored by Iran.”
Laid out on stage were seven drones and two cruise missiles which formed part of the salvo that cut off half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production and sent world fuel prices rocketing to unprecedented levels.
Iran strongly denies involvement.
And Tehran’s ally in Yemen’s civil war, the Houthi movement, has claimed responsibility for the attacks on the Abqaiq facility and the Khurais oil field, despite their obvious lack of technology.
But Saudi military spokesman Col Turki al-Malki said the debris was “undeniable evidence” and he was positive the attack came from the direction of Iran.
He said: “The attack could not have originated from Yemen.
“The attack was launched from the north and was unquestionably sponsored by Iran.”
The attack could not have originated from Yemen
Saudi Col Turki al-Malki
Iranian Delta Wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) were used as well as cruise missiles, Col al-Malki said.
He said the cruise missiles had a range of 435 miles, meaning they could not have been fired from inside Yemen, where a proxy war is being fought between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
He played surveillance video he said showed a drone coming in from the north.
“This the kind of weapon the Iranian regime and the Iranian IRGC are using against the civilian object and facilities infrastructure,” he said, using an acronym for Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.
Meanwhile Donald Trump is drawing up a hit-list as he hatches plans to clobber Iran following the attacks on the world’s largest oil plant in Saudi Arabia.
The US President is said to have been given a “menu” of options by Pentagon chiefs that includes air raids and crippling cyber attacks.
Trump has said his military was “locked and loaded” as the Middle East moves to the brink of a vicious new war, which threatens most of the world’s oil supplies and shipping.
He also announced he has ordered treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin to “substantially increase sanctions” in a bid to further squeeze Iran’s faltering economy.
But Iran denies involvement and defiantly vowed to shoot down US warplanes.
In a letter to the United States via the Swiss Embassy, Iran said any move by America against Iran “will get immediate reaction”.
But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that “emerging information indicates that responsibility lies with Iran”.
Three officials, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the attacks involved both cruise missiles and drones, and involved a higher degree of complexity and sophistication than initially thought.
Using radar imagery and intelligence, Pentagon analysts have pinpointed the launch site to south western Iran, probably Omidiyeh Air Base and not Yemen as previously thought.
Saudi officials have released photographs of a missile it shot down which resembles a Quds 1, a missile that is made by Iran.
“Almost certainly it’s Iranian-backed,” Prince Khalid bin Bandar, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, earlier told the BBC.
Images purport to show the debris of a cruise missile in the Saudi desert after two strikes on oil facilities over the weekend[/caption]
US and Saudi officials have blamed the strikes on Iran[/caption]
Questions have been asked how most of the drones and missiles managed to penetrate the Saudis’ sophisticated air defences.
Last year alone Saudi Arabia bought £52bn of arms, including US radar and Patriot missiles.
The failure of the weapons prompted Russian leader Vladimir Putin to mockingly say the Saudis should have instead bought his S-400 air defences like Iran.
But according to Saudi sources, air defences did not stop the drones and missiles because they were pointed southwards, to prevent attacks from Yemen.
I think it’s difficult to rule out military action
Ex-defence secretary Liam Fox
Former defence and international trade secretary Liam Fox has said that military action against Iran cannot be ruled out following the drone attack on Saudi Arabia oil installations on Saturday.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Dr Fox said he believed it was becoming increasingly clear that Iran is to blame for the attacks.
He said: “Increasingly, looking at the intelligence sources we have, it seems that is the case.”
On whether military action should be taken, Dr Fox added: “You can’t rule anything out, nobody wants to see that – Iran haven’t ruled military involvement out to its neighbours.
“I think it’s difficult to rule out military action.”
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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]
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