Saudi Arabia Says Iran 'Unquestionably Sponsored' Attack On Oil Facilities

The top US diplomat, who will also visit the United Arab Emirates, said drone and cruise missile strikes on two Saudi oil installations on Saturday had not come from Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi group, which has claimed responsibility.

Iran sent a note through Swiss diplomats in Tehran on Monday, reiterating that Tehran denies being involved in the Saudi attack, IRNA reported.

Al-Maliki showed surveillance video purporting to show drones moving in a north to south direction. That deployment was based on a flimsy pretext, a response to unspecified threats allegedly posed by Iran to USA forces in the region - what an Iranian official described as "fake intelligence". Turki al-Malki told journalists in Riyadh that the cruise missile was a "Ya Ali" variant.

"I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase sanctions on the country of Iran!" he wrote in a tweet on Wednesday, with no further explanation.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman on Wednesday, telling reporters: "The Saudis were the nation that were attacked. Who started the conflict?" he said, blaming Washington and its Gulf allies for war in Yemen.

The group had launched "Samad 3", "Qassef 3", jet-powered and other drones, including some carrying bombs, at the Saudi oil plants from three sites, he said in a televised speech.

USA efforts to bring about a UN Security Council (UNSC) response look unlikely to succeed as Russian Federation and China have veto powers and are expected to shield Iran.

By stopping short of saying the missiles were launched from Iran, the kingdom potentially avoids a response that could lead to war among the heavyweight countries of the region and global superpower, the United States.

Concrete evidence showing Iranian responsibility, if made public, could pressure Riyadh and Washington into a response, though both nations were stressing the need for caution.

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

Vice-President Mike Pence said on Tuesday that the White House is "evaluating all the evidence" while Pompeo was traveling to Saudi Arabia to "discuss our response". Iran has denied involvement in the raids, which occurred and targeted the world's biggest crude processing facility, temporarily knocking out half of Saudi production.

Tehran has said it will not negotiate with the USA until America comes back to the Obama-era nuclear deal, which President Trump pulled out of in 2018.

"The precision impact of the cruise missile indicate advanced capability beyond Iran proxy capacity", he said.

"We don't want conflict in the region".

Abqaiq - run by the Saudi state oil company, Aramco - and the Khurais oilfield were hit in the early hours of Saturday.

Those tensions have been boiling since Trump pulled the USA out of Iran's 2015 agreement with world powers that curtailed Iranian nuclear activities and the USA reimposed sanctions that sent Iran's economy into freefall.

In remarks on Tuesday, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei slammed the US' bid for talks with Iran as a trick, stressing that Iranian and United States officials will not hold negotiations whatsoever, either in NY or anywhere else.

Iran also ruled out a potential meeting between Trump and Hassan Rouhani, Iran's president, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly next week in NY.

  • Darren Santiago