Hudson Institute senior fellow Michael Pregent says he believes without a doubt that Iran was involved in the attacks on Saudi oil facilities. Saudi oil sites attacked on Saturday -- in a drone assault linked to Iran -- were seen to have sustained damage after satellite images released Sunday captured char marks and smoke billowing from the world's largest oil processing facility. The weekend attack ignited huge fires at Saudi Aramco's Abqaiq oil processing facility and interrupted about 5.7 million barrels of crude oil production -- over 5 percent of the world's daily supply. U.S. satellite images appeared to show approximately 17 points of impact on key infrastructure at the site after the attack. While Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels have since claimed responsibility for the attack, the U.S. has accused Iran of launching the assault.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday accused Iran of leading attacks on Saudi oil plants that cut the kingdom's output roughly in half, ruling out Yemeni involvement and denouncing Tehran for false diplomacy. Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi group claimed credit for Saturday's attacks on two plants at the heart of Saudi Arabia's oil industry, including the world's biggest petroleum processing facility. Pompeo, however, said on Twitter that there was no evidence the attacks came from Yemen. "Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy," Pompeo said, referring to Iran's President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif. "Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply," he added.
The attack comes after Iran exceeded their enriched uranium stockpile limit in the nuclear deal. An Iranian official responded Sunday after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pointed at the nation's government in Tehran following Saturday's drone attacks on Saudi Arabia oil facilities. "The Americans adopted the'maximum pressure' policy against Iran, which, due to its failure, is leaning towards'maximum lies'," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said, according to the Associated Press. On Saturday, Pompeo charged that Iran's government in Tehran ordered "nearly 100 attacks" on a Saudi refinery and oilfield, further alleging that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif pretending "to engage in diplomacy." On Sunday, Mousavi dismissed Pompeo's remarks as "blind and futile comments."
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – The assault on the beating heart of Saudi Arabia's vast oil empire follows a new and dangerous pattern that's emerged across the Persian Gulf this summer of precise attacks that leave few obvious clues as to who launched them. Beginning in May with the still-unclaimed explosions that damaged oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, the region has seen its energy infrastructure repeatedly targeted. Those attacks culminated with Saturday's assault on the world's biggest oil processor in eastern Saudi Arabia, which halved the oil-rich kingdom's production and caused energy prices to spike. Some strikes have been claimed by Yemen's Houthi rebels, who have been battling a Saudi-led coalition in the Arab world's poorest country since 2015. Their rapidly increasing sophistication fuels suspicion among experts and analysts however that Iran may be orchestrating them -- or perhaps even carrying them out itself as the U.S. alleges in the case of Saturday's attack.
Hudson Institute senior fellow Michael Pregent says he believes without a doubt that Iran was involved in the attacks on Saudi oil facilities. Iran on Monday reportedly seized a vessel in the Persian Gulf for allegedly smuggling diesel to the United Arab Emirates -- a close ally of Saudi Arabia -- amid the ratcheting up of regional tensions after a group of Iranian-backed rebels said they were responsible for the attack on a Saudi oil facility over the weekend. The vessel seized Monday morning was carrying 250,000 liters of fuel when it was intercepted by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to the Islamic Republic's semi-official Iranian Students' News Agency. "It was detained near Iran's Greater Tunb island in the Persian Gulf...the crew have been handed over to legal authorities in the southern Hormozgan province," ISNA reported, according to Reuters. The nationalities of those aboard the vessel were not immediately clear.