Iran denies United States claims about Saudi Aramco attacks

Andrew Cummings
September 17, 2019

NORTHAM: Well, we know that the strikes on these two oil installations in the eastern part of Saudi Arabia were carried out by drones, and Houthi rebels in Yemen say they used 10 drones in the attack.

But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said there was "no evidence" for the claim.

Pompeo's remarks came amid rising tensions between Washington and Tehran following President Trump's decision a year ago to pull the US out of the Iran nuclear deal.

The attack in the kingdom, the world's top oil exporter, immediately wiped out half its production of ten million barrels a day - which experts said would take "weeks" to restore. He implicated Iran, which is waging a proxy war in Yemen by funding the Houthi rebels in their conflict with the old regime backed by an global coalition led by the Saudis.

Accepting Iranian responsibility for such attacks has been an easy matter for many on the Hill.

For months Iranian officials have issued veiled threats, saying that if Tehran is blocked from exporting oil, other countries will not be able to do so either. However, Iran has denied any role in specific attacks, including bombings of tankers in the Gulf and previous strikes claimed by the Houthis.

Saudi Arabia is set to become a significant buyer of refined products after the attacks, consultancy Energy Aspects said in a note.

Still, a major USA military response may be unlikely, according to experts who said they doubt Trump will be willing to use force against Tehran or risk escalating violence in the Middle East ahead of the 2020 presidential election. The company has not given a specific timeline for the resumption of full output. Officials said they would use other facilities and existing stocks to supplant the gap in production.

Oil prices surged to six-month highs on Monday while Wall Street futures turned lower and safe-haven bets returned after weekend attacks on Saudi Arabia's crude facilities knocked out more than 5 percent of global oil supply.

The Saudi bourse closed down 1.1% on Sunday, with banking and petrochemical shares taking the biggest hit.

In early Asian trading, futures for US 10-year Treasury notes rose 0.3%, indicating yields may slip when cash trading begins.

"However Saudi Aramco keeps some redundancy in the system to maintain production during maintenance", Rapidan added, meaning operations could return to pre-attack levels sooner.

Some Iraqi media outlets, as well as Middle East Eye, said the attack came from there. Baghdad denied that on Sunday and vowed to punish anyone using Iraq - where Iran-backed paramilitary groups wield increasing power - as a launchpad for attacks.

Following a phone call between Trump and Prince Mohammed, the White House condemned the attacks on "infrastructure vital to the global economy". The European Union warned that the strikes posed a real threat to regional security, and several nations urged restraint.

Analysts also said the attacks may do little to deter the President from seeking a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in an effort to broker a new nuclear agreement.

That marked a shift in tone from a tweet sent by Trump on Sunday, when he said the United States was "locked and loaded" and ready to respond.

Mnuchin said Thursday that Trump had made clear "he would sit down with Rouhani with no condition".

He said that "the only way to end the useless crisis in Yemen and establish peace in the region is to halt the Saudi-led coalition's attacks and invasion, cut off western political and military support to the aggressors, and find political solutions".

A civil war has raged in Yemen for five years, during which thousands have died and millions face starvation.

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