US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo heads to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to study how to respond to the bombing of oil facilities.Tehran is behind, US Vice President Mike Pence said. On the Saudi side, Oil and Energy Minister Abdul Aziz bin Salman said Riyadh did not know the source of the attack.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to discuss the US response to missile attacks on Saudi oil facilities, US Vice President Mike Pence said.
Pence said in a speech at the Heritage Foundation that the foreign minister “will go to Saudi Arabia today to discuss our response.”
“It seems certain that Iran was behind these attacks.”
“As the president said, we don’t want war with anyone, but the United States is ready,” he said.
“We are ready and our finger on the trigger, and we are ready to defend our interests and our allies in the region, no one should have any doubt about that,” he said.
A US official told Agence France-Presse on condition of anonymity that Washington was certain that the missiles that targeted Saudi Arabia came from Iran.
The official said that the US administration is currently working on a file to prove its information and convince the international community, especially Europeans, during the work of the United Nations General Assembly next week in New York.
The official confirmed that the US intelligence services have the ability to determine who fired the rockets, but declined to disclose the number of rockets fired.
“I will not go into such details,” he said.
Riyadh does not know the source of the attacks
Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, at a news conference in Jeddah on Tuesday avoided accusing anyone of being behind the attacks on Aramco. “We don’t know who was behind the attack,” he said.
President Donald Trump said on Monday he wanted to be sure of the source of the attack and would like to consult with Riyadh on any possible response.
On Tuesday, Pence recalled the president’s cautious wording, saying “Iran” seems to be behind the attacks.
“Our intelligence services are analyzing the evidence at this very moment,” he said, adding that Trump would decide what to do “in the coming days.”
Tehran refuses to negotiate
Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the United States is in denial of reality for refusing to believe that the attacks originated from Yemen, not from his country.
“The United States is in denial if it thinks that Yemeni victims of four and a half years of the most heinous war crimes will not do what they can to strike back,” he wrote in a tweet.
“Perhaps it is embarrassing because hundreds of billions of dollars of arms have not come under Yemeni fire.”
Earlier in the day, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rejected the possibility of negotiating with the United States.
He stressed that if the United States declared “repentance” and returned to the nuclear deal, it would then be able to hold talks with Iran along with other parties to the agreement.
“If the United States retracts its remarks and declares repentance after its withdrawal from the nuclear deal,” he said, “it will be able to join the rest of the signatories to the nuclear deal and talk to Iran.”
“Otherwise, there will be no negotiations at any level between the officials of the Islamic Republic and the Americans, whether during the visit to New York or any other visit.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said earlier the attack was carried out in self-defense by Yemeni-backed Houthi rebels.
Tensions between Iran and the United States and its allies have risen since May last year when President Trump announced his country’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Tehran as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign.
Iran, in turn, responded by lowering its commitment to the terms of the historic agreement, which provided for a relaxation of sanctions in return for restrictions on its nuclear program.
France calls for an end to escalation French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Laudrian called in Cairo for a “halt to escalation” in the Gulf. “We have indicated our common desire to stop the escalation,” he said. “We believe it is necessary to combine all efforts to stop the escalation.” Britain and Germany on Tuesday called on the international community to form a “collective response” to the attacks. Oil prices fell by 5 percent on Tuesday after a rise in the previous day, after a number of analysts expected Saudi production to return to its predecessor in a shorter than expected period.
As financial markets around the world continue to be hit by the aftermath of the attacks on Tuesday, S&P Platts, an economic information firm, said Saudi Arabia’s production would remain down by about 3 million barrels of oil per day for at least a month