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.
Drone attacks claimed by Yemen's Houthi rebels struck two key oil installations inside Saudi Arabia on Saturday, damaging facilities that process the vast majority of the country's crude output and raising the risk of a disruption in world oil supplies. The attacks immediately escalated tensions in the Persian Gulf amid a standoff between the United States and Iran, even as key questions remained unanswered -- where the drones were launched from, and how the Houthis managed to hit facilities deep in Saudi territory, some 500 miles from Yemeni soil. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of being behind what he called "an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply" and asserted that there was "no evidence the attacks came from Yemen." He did not, however, specify an alternative launch site, and the Saudis themselves refrained from pointing the finger directly at Iran. President Trump condemned the attack in a phone call with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and offered support for "Saudi Arabia's self defense," the White House said in a statement, adding that the United States "remains committed to ensuring global oil markets are stable and well supplied."
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."
The attack, which knocked out more than half of the Saudi oil output, may force the U.S. to tap into its own oil reserves to keep the markets well supplied. The devastating attack Saturday against a major oil facility in Saudi Arabia dramatically illustrates why the Iran nuclear deal that was accepted by the Obama administration and rejected by President Trump failed to end the Iranian threat to peace and stability in the Middle East. While the nuclear deal put temporary restrictions on the Iranian nuclear program, it did absolutely nothing to stop Iran's aggressive conventional and asymmetric military actions against its neighbors and threats against Israel. This is partly why President Trump ultimately withdrew from this deeply flawed agreement. In fact, the nuclear deal aided Iranian military aggression and support of terrorist groups by lifting international economic sanctions against Iran and freeing up Iranian funds frozen by foreign banks.
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - One person was killed and seven others were wounded in an attack by Iranian-allied Yemeni rebels on an airport in the kingdom Sunday evening as U.S. Secretary of State was on his way to the country for talks on Iran, Saudi Arabia said. Regional tensions have flared in recent days, The U.S. abruptly called off military strikes against Iran in response to the shooting down of an unmanned American surveillance drone. The Trump administration has vowed to combine a "maximum pressure" campaign of economic sanctions with a buildup of American forces in the region, following the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. A new set of U.S. sanctions on Iran are expected to be announced Monday. The Sunday attack by the Yemeni rebels, known as Houthis, targeted the Saudi airport in Abha.