The United States has concluded that an attack on Saudi oil facilities was launched from Iran, a US official said Tuesday as Vice President Mike Pence again warned that the US military is “locked and loaded” for a possible response.
The official, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, said the strike involved cruise missiles and that evidence would be presented at the UN General Assembly next week.
Pence announced that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on his way to Saudi Arabia to “discuss our response.”
“As the president said, we don’t want war with anybody but the United States is prepared,” Pence said in a speech to the Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington.
“We’re locked and loaded and we’re ready to defend our interests and allies in the region, make no mistake about it,” he said, echoing President Donald Trump’s words on Monday.
The apparent hardening of the US position came as Iran’s supreme leader ruled out negotiations with Washington “at any level.”
However, continuing days of mixed messaging from the White House, spokesman Hogan Gidley refused to rule out a possible — albeit now highly unlikely — encounter between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations next week.
Trump is “obligated to try and find peace,” he said.
– Iran-Saudi proxy war –
Yemen’s Iranian-backed Huthi rebels claimed responsibility for Saturday’s oil installation attacks, which halved output from the petro-state, the world’s biggest crude producer and a close ally of Washington.
The Huthis are at war with Saudi-backed forces in Yemen, turning the impoverished nation into a proxy battlefield for bitter regional rivals Tehran and Riyadh.
The increasingly complex conflict dovetails with the Trump administration’s attempt to curb Iranian power through a “maximum pressure” campaign of crippling economic sanctions.
Trump began that campaign after unilaterally pulling out of a 2015 international deal meant to reward Iran for allowing restrictions on its nuclear industry. He says that Tehran is secretly cheating and trying to build nuclear weapons and must be stopped.
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Washington’s real goal was to bring his country to its knees.
“The policy of ‘maximum pressure’ against the Iranian nation is worthless and all Islamic Republic of Iran officials unanimously believe there will be no negotiations with the US at any level,” he said in a televised address.
Khamenei also said that as long as sanctions are in place, direct talks are impossible, including a meeting at the UN.
“Without this, no negotiations will happen at any level between the Islamic Republic of Iran’s officials and the Americans, not during the visit to New York or any other visit,” he said.
– Support for war? –
Whether the new stage of the long-running US-Iranian standoff leads to a shooting war is the big unknown.
Saudi Arabia, which has bought huge quantities of US weaponry, is considered a strategic ally in the region, second to Israel, another bitter foe of Iran.
Trump called off a retaliatory US missile attack on Iran in June after the Iranians shot down a spy drone. He said he did not want to kill what generals told him could be up to 150 people.
He has indicated that he may no longer feel that restraint.
“I’m not looking to get into new conflict, but sometimes you have to,” he said Monday. “That was a very large attack, and it could be met by an attack many, many times larger.”
US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper labelled Iran a destabilizing force in the region, but stopped short of directly accusing Tehran over the strikes.
The US military, he said, was working with its partners to “address this unprecedented attack.”
In Congress, Republican Senator Mitt Romney told reporters that the United States should not be drawn into war. “Saudi Arabia is fully capable, with the weapons we’ve sold them, to respond in a way they think is appropriate,” he said.
Another Republican, Senator John Thune, said that if Iran were proven to be behind the Saudi attack, that “crosses a line that hasn’t been crossed before and, yeah, I think it’d be certainly appropriate for the US and allies to respond.”
– Oil market nervous –
The contested strikes hit Abqaiq, the world’s largest oil processing facility, and the Khurais oil field in eastern Saudi Arabia.
Oil markets continued to eye the situation carefully. Prices receded five percent on Tuesday, reversing some of the previous day’s gains as analysts said they were expecting Saudi output to recover sooner than expected after the weekend’s attacks.
As aftershocks continued to ripple across financial markets on Tuesday, energy specialists S&P Platt said around three million barrels per day of Saudi crude would remain offline for at least a month.
Britain and Germany on Tuesday urged the international community to forge a “collective response” to the attacks.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, visiting Cairo, said it was “imperative to put all our efforts together to achieve this de-escalation”.
China condemned the attacks and appealed to all sides to “refrain from taking actions that lead to an escalation of tensions in the region.”
Vehicles being used as weapons against protesters is ‘the new normal in 2020’: CNN
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"Vehicles used as weapons," Don Lemon began. "You heard me right, vehicles are being used as weapons against Americans taking to the streets in Black Lives Matter protests in cities across this country."
CNN correspondent Evan McMorris-Santoro reported shocking scenes captured on camera of vehicles running down protesters are "common now."
Trump tells supporters he won’t be ‘stupid’ enough for peaceful transition of power if he loses
President Donald Trump continued to spread debunked conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election during a Friday night campaign rally in Virginia.
Trump argued that it was impossible for him to lose the election, thus concluding he would be "stupid" to hand over power peacefully should he lose.
"We not gonna lose this, except if they cheat," Trump falsely claimed about the 2020 campaign, where he trails Joe Biden in national and battleground polling.
"That's the only way we're gonna lose is if there's, uh, mischief," he argued. "And it will have to be on a big scale."
Kamala’s family ridicules ‘idiot’ Trump for comments on Sen. Harris at Virginia rally
President Donald Trump lashed out at the Democratic Party vice presidential nominee during a Friday night campaign speech in Newport News, Virginia.
Maya Harris, the sister of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), was pleased that Trump noted the differences between the two VP choices.
Praise the Lord! https://t.co/6B4Z2qxE8a
— Maya Harris (@mayaharris_) September 26, 2020