09/18/2019, 13.41
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S Arabia, US blame Iran for attacks on Saudi refineries. Trump takes go-slow approach

Saudis claim they have evidence of Tehran's “involvement” in the operation. The attacks included cruise missiles and drones, indicating a high degree of complexity and sophistication. Pompeo travels to Riyadh and Abi Dhabi. US president is waiting results of the investigation to draw up an action plan.

Riyadh (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Saudi Arabia on Wednesday said it has evidence linking regional rival Iran to an unprecedented attack against its oil installations, with Washington blaming Iran for a dangerous escalation of Middle East.

Saudi TV announced that the Saudi Defence Ministry will hold a news conference late in the afternoon to present “material evidence and Iranian weapons”, proving “Tehran’s involvement in the terrorist attack”.

The Islamic Republic has denied involvement in the 14 September attacks against the oil fields, which momentarily knocked out half of Saudi Arabia’s production. The site includes the world’s biggest crude processing facility.

Yemen’s Houthis, who are allied to Iran, claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they used drones against Saudi state oil company Aramco.

Several members of the US administration, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who is flying to Saudi Arabia, point the finger at Iran, holding it responsible for twin attack.

The Islamic Republic rejected the charge several times in recent days. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also said there is no “certain” evidence about the perpetrators.

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday said that its oil output will be back to normal by the end of September, trying to calm a jittery energy markets after its production was halved.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told a press conference in Jeddah that half of the production knocked out in the attacks was already back flowing. He added the Kingdom had dipped into its reserves to ensure supply continued as normal.

"Over the past two days we have contained the damage and restored more than half of the production that was down as a result of the terrorist attack," said the minister. "I have good news for you... The oil output to international markets is back to what it was before the attack.”

The Prince said Saudi Arabia would keep its role as a sure supplier of global oil markets. He added that the Kingdom, the world’s leading oil exporter, needs to take strict measures to prevent further attacks.

Yesterday oil prices fell by around 6 per cent, after a first surge in the days immediately following the attack.

At the same time, three officials, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the attacks involved cruise missiles and drones, indicating that they involved a higher degree of complexity and sophistication than initially thought.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has adopted an uncharacteristically go-slow approach over whether to hold Iran responsible for attacks on Saudi oil facilities, showing little enthusiasm for confrontation as he seeks re-election next year.

After state-owned Saudi Aramco’s plants were struck on Saturday, Trump did not wait long to fire off a tweet that the United States was “locked and loaded” to respond. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was also quick to blame Iran.

Four days later, Trump had no timetable for action. Instead, he appears to have taken a wait-and-see attitude as investigations look into what happened.

At the same time, this week he has sent Pompeo to consult counterparts in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for urgent consultations.

“There’s plenty of time,” Trump told reporters on Monday. “You know, there’s no rush. We’ll all be here a long time. There’s no rush” and sent his Secretary of State in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. 

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