U.S. blames Iran for Saudi oil attack, Trump says ‘locked and loaded’


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump stated on Sunday the United States was “locked and loaded” for a possible response to the assault on Saudi Arabia’s oil services, after a senior U.S. administration official stated Iran was guilty.

A satellite tv for pc picture reveals an obvious drone strike on an Aramco oil facility in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia September 14, 2019. Planet Labs Inc/Handout by way of REUTERS

Trump additionally approved using the U.S. emergency oil stockpile to make sure steady provides after the assault, which shut 5% of world manufacturing and despatched crude costs hovering greater than 19% in early commerce on Monday, earlier than moderating to indicate a 10% acquire.

There is cause to consider that we all know the offender, are locked and loaded relying on verification, however are ready to listen to from the Kingdom as to who they consider was the reason for this assault, and underneath what phrases we’d proceed!” Trump stated on Twitter.

Earlier within the day, a senior U.S. official instructed reporters that proof from the assault, which hit the world’s greatest oil-processing facility, indicated Iran was behind it, as an alternative of the Yemeni Houthi group that had claimed duty.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo additionally stated there was no proof the assault got here from Yemen, the place a Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Houthis for over 4 years in a battle extensively seen as a proxy battle between Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Muslim rival Iran.

“Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply,” Pompeo stated.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi dismissed the U.S. allegations that it was accountable was “pointless”. A senior Revolutionary Guards commander warned the Islamic Republic was prepared for “full-fledged” battle.

“All American bases and their aircraft carriers in a distance of up to 2,000 kilometers around Iran are within the range of our missiles,” the semi-official Tasnim information company quoted Commander Amirali Hajizadeh as saying.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran had been already operating excessive due to a long-running dispute between the 2 nations over Iran’s nuclear program that led the United States to impose sweeping sanctions.

Oil costs surged as a lot as 19% in early Asian commerce on Monday on worries over international provide and hovering tensions within the Middle East.

Brent crude LCOc1 posted its greatest intra-day proportion acquire because the begin of the Gulf War in 1991.

State oil big Saudi Aramco stated the assault on Saturday had lower output by 5.7 million barrels per day.

The U.S. official, who requested to not be named, stated on Sunday there have been 19 factors of influence within the assault on Saudi services and proof confirmed the launch space was west-northwest of the targets – not south from Yemen.

The official added that Saudi officers indicated they’d seen indicators that cruise missiles had been used within the assault, which is inconsistent with the Iran-aligned Houthi group’s declare that it performed the assault with 10 drones.

“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,” the official instructed reporters.

Riyadh has accused Iran of being behind earlier assaults on oil-pumping stations and the Shaybah oil area, expenses that Tehran denies, however has not blamed anybody for Saturday’s strike. Riyadh additionally says Tehran arms the Houthis, a cost each deny.

Richard Nephew, a program director at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, stated if Iran was accountable for the assault, it might be as retribution for U.S. sanctions.

“They are making decisions about whether and how to respond to what they see as a massive attack on their interests from the U.S. via sanctions by attacking U.S. interests in turn, and those of U.S. partners they believe are responsible for U.S. policy,” he stated.

Aramco gave no timeline for output resumption. A supply near the matter instructed Reuters the return to full oil capability might take “weeks, not days”.

Riyadh stated it could compensate for the injury at its services by drawing on its shares, which stood at 188 million barrels in June, in keeping with official information.

Trump stated he had “authorized the release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, if needed, in a to-be-determined amount sufficient to keep the markets well-supplied.”

CALLS FOR RESTRAINT

Consultancy Rapidan Energy Group stated photographs of the Abqaiq facility after the assault confirmed about 5 of its stabilization towers appeared to have been destroyed, and would take months to rebuild – one thing that might curtail output for a protracted interval.

“However Saudi Aramco keeps some redundancy in the system to maintain production during maintenance,” Rapidan added, which means operations might return to pre-attack ranges sooner.

The Saudi bourse closed down 1.1% on Sunday, with banking and petrochemical shares taking the largest hit. Saudi petrochemical companies introduced a major discount in feedstock provides.

“Abqaiq is the nerve center of the Saudi energy system. Even if exports resume in the next 24 to 48 hours, the image of invulnerability has been altered,” Helima Croft, international head of commodity technique at RBC Capital Markets, instructed Reuters.

Some Iraqi media retailers stated the assault got here from there. Baghdad denied that on Sunday and vowed to punish anybody utilizing Iraq, the place Iran-backed paramilitary teams wield rising energy, as a launchpad for assaults.

Kuwait, which borders Iraq, stated it was investigating the sighting of a drone over its territory and coordinating with Saudi Arabia and different international locations.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned Saturday’s assaults and referred to as on all events to train restraint and forestall any escalation. The European Union warned the strikes posed an actual menace to regional safety, and a number of nations urged restraint.

The assault got here after Trump stated a gathering with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was potential on the U.N. General Assembly in New York this month. Tehran dominated out talks till sanctions are lifted.

But Trump appeared on Sunday to minimize the probabilities he could be keen to satisfy with Iranian officers, saying studies he would achieve this with out circumstances weren’t correct.

As not too long ago as final Tuesday, Pompeo stated Trump “is prepared to meet with no preconditions”.

A satellite tv for pc picture reveals an obvious drone strike on an Aramco oil facility in Harad, Saudi Arabia September 14, 2019. Planet Labs Inc/Handout by way of REUTERS

Saudi de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman instructed Trump that Riyadh was able to cope with “terrorist aggression”. A Saudi-led coalition has responded to previous Houthi assaults with air strikes on the group’s navy websites in Yemen.

The battle has been in navy stalemate for years. The Saudi alliance has air supremacy however has come underneath scrutiny over civilian deaths and a humanitarian disaster that has left hundreds of thousands going through hunger.

Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Arshad Mohammed; Additional reporting by Rania El Gamal and Parisa Hafezi, Saeed Azhar and Hadeel Al Sayegh in Dubai, David Shepardson and Timothy Gardner in Washington, William James in London, John Irish in Paris, Alex Lawler, Julia Payne and Ron Bousso in London, Robin Emmott in Brussels and Devika Krishna Kumar and Michelle Nichols in New York; Writing by Ghaida Ghantous and Richard Valdmanis; Editing by William Maclean, Peter Cooney & Simon Cameron-Moore

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



Source link reuters.com

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