Iran: No Talk with USA at Any Level

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday squashed the idea of any Trump-Rouhani talks.

Saudi Arabia has said its oil output will return to normal by the end of this month, with half the production lost in drone attacks on two key facilities already restored. Trump has also said he is open to a face-to-face meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rohani and willing to negotiate a new agreement with the Islamic republic.

Washington also wants to pressure Tehran to end its support for regional proxy forces, including in Yemen where Saudi forces have been fighting Iran-backed Houthis for four years.

Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said there was no evidence the attack came from Yemen.

"We have the best fighter jets, the best rockets, the best missiles, the best equipment", Trump said, when asked if he wants a war with Iran.

The sharp division in blame has placed some of the strongest US allies in the precarious position of determining how to respond to such provocative action.

Prices for gasoline in the United States rose almost 15 percent Tuesday following weekend drone attacks on Saudi Arabian oil fields, according to energy experts.

"The attacks [in Saudi Arabia] mark a logical and expected escalation in systematic provocations of the Islamic republic meant to improve Tehran's negotiating position vis-a-vis the US", said Ali Alfoneh, a nonresident senior fellow at The Atlantic Council in Washington.

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"They can take weeks or months to get specialized parts", said Phillip Cornell, a former senior corporate planning adviser to Aramco, according to Bloomberg.

American officials released satellite images of the damage at the heart of the kingdom's Abqaiq processing plant and a key oil field, and two USA officials said the attackers used multiple cruise missiles and drone aircraft. "I think the market will be reacting on the situation based on the information that will be coming out from Saudi Arabia", Novak said.

AAA also says the attacks have taken 5.7 million barrels of crude oil per day off the market, which accounts for six percent of the global supply.

Riyadh asked global experts to join its investigation, which indicates the attack did not come from Yemen, the foreign ministry said.

Saudi Arabia, which has bought huge quantities of U.S. weaponry, is considered a strategic ally in the region, second to Israel, another bitter foe of Iran.

China condemned the attacks and appealed to all sides to "refrain from taking actions that lead to an escalation of tensions in the region".

The assault on the beating heart of Saudi Arabia's vast oil empire follows a new and unsafe pattern that's emerged across the Persian Gulf this summer of precise attacks that leave few obvious clues as to who launched them.

  • Delia Davidson