Iran's Rouhani comes out swinging against the US

Thursday, 19 Sep, 2019

On September 18, Defense Ministry spokesman Colonel Turki bin Saleh Al-Malki told a news conference in Riyadh that 18 drones and seven cruise missiles struck a Saudi oil field and the world's largest crude oil-processing plant from a direction that ruled out Yemen as a source.

United States officials have said that Tehran is behind the attack which significantly cut Saudi Arabia's crude oil output and resulted in surging oil prices on Monday. Riyadh has already said preliminary results showed the attack did not come from Yemen.

However, despite the USA pointing fingers at Iran, the minister, who is the son of King Salman, refrained from saying who he thought was responsible for Saturday's strikes which roiled global energy markets.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was due to hold talks with the Saudis later on Wednesday, after US President Donald Trump vowed further sanctions against Iran.

The display took place shortly before U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on ways to deter Iran.

The assault exposed serious gaps in Saudi air defences despite billions of dollars spent on Western military hardware and repeated attacks on vital assets during its four-and-a-half year foray into the Yemen war. "Who started the conflict?" he added, blaming Washington and its Gulf allies for war in Yemen.

Saudi and U.S. investigators have determined "with very high probability" that the weekend attack on the Saudi oil industry was launched from a base in Iran close to the border with Iraq, a source familiar with the investigations told CNN Tuesday. Boroujerdi is a member of the Iranian Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, making his remarks particularly reflective of the regime's opinion.

Saudi officials separately planned to share information about the weapons used in the attack they allege are Iranian.

Saudi Arabia's defence ministry today presented Iranian weapons at a press conference in a bid to prove Iranian involvement.

The new stage of the long-running US-Iranian standoff has raised speculation over whether it will lead to conflict. The cost for a barrel of US crude is up 30% this year and it has yet to return to price levels before the attack Monday, which exposed the vulnerability of Saudi Arabia's key oil assets.

However President Trump appeared to have cooled on the idea saying he would "prefer not" to meet his Iranian counterpart.

Showing the wing of a drone, he claimed data recovered from the computers show "it's Iranian", he said.

The US has blamed the attacks on Iran, and had said it could release more of its strategic reserves on the market to restore calm to prices.

"The Iranian delegation, which was due to travel to NY to prepare for Rouhani's visit to attend the UN General Assembly, has not been able to obtain visas until now", IRNA said.

"We have a lot of options, but I'm not looking at options right now", Trump said. However, prices have since cooled after the Saudi oil minister assured of speedy recovery of production. But antagonism returned when Trump pulled out of the pact, reached before he took office, and reimposed sanctions, severely damaging the Iranian economy.

"It doesn't change the fingerprints of the ayatollah as having put at risk the global energy supply", he said, referring to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khomenei. Saying the Houthis were responsible for the drone strikes, he said: "They attacked an industrial center to warn you".