Mike Pompeo says 'abundantly clear' Iran was behind Saudi oil attacks

Fie photo of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photograph:( Reuters )

Agencies New Delhi, Delhi, India Sep 19, 2019, 09.13 PM (IST)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that the United States was building a coalition to deter Iran after an attack on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities but it wanted a peaceful resolution.

Speaking to the media after meeting with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and earlier Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Pompeo said it was "abundantly clear" Iran was behind the attacks.

Pompeo had earlier described the weekend strike that initially halved Saudi oil output as an act of war and has been discussing possible retaliation with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies. He told reporters he would now brief President Donald Trump on how the US should proceed.

He confirmed there would be more economic sanctions placed on Iran in the wake of the attacks.

Watch: Saudi oil field attacks - Pompeo heads to Saudi as US blames Iran

President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced what he said would be substantial new sanctions against Iran in the first response to what US officials say was likely Iranian involvement in an attack on Saudi oil facilities.

"I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!" Trump said in a tweet.

The United States already enforces widespread sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy, including attempting to shut down its major oil export industry.

Meanwhile, earlier in the day, Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif responded by telling CNN that the Islamic Republic "won't blink" if it has to defend itself against any US or Saudi military strike, which he said would lead to "all-out war".

Mohammed Javad Zarif said Pompeo was part of a so-called "B-team", which Tehran says includes Saudi Arabia's crown prince and is trying to dupe Trump into opting for war.

Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi movement, which is battling a Saudi-led military coalition, claimed responsibility for the assault on two Saudi oil plants, including the world's largest processing facility. US and Saudi officials rejected the claim, saying the attack had not come from the south.

Kuwait, which said earlier this week it was investigating the detection of a drone over its territory, has put its oil sector on high alert and raised security to the highest level as a precautionary measure.

Oil prices, which soared following the attack, steadied after Saudi Arabia pledged to restore full oil production by the end of September.
 

Story highlights

Pompeo had earlier described the weekend strike that initially halved Saudi oil output as an act of war and has been discussing possible retaliation with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies.