“Locked & Loaded” President threatens military action after Saudi oil fields attacked
A weekend drone attack on Saudi Arabia that cut into global energy supplies threatened to fuel a regional crisis on Sunday, as the U.S. released new evidence to back up its allegation that Iran was responsible for the assault amid tensions over Tehran’s collapsing nuclear deal.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the attack on key Saudi oil infrastructure. On Sunday, senior U.S. officials again said the American government believes there is no doubt Iran was responsible.
In Boston on Sunday, former White House chief of staff John Kelly backed Pompeo’s assertion that Iran carried out the attack.
“If Mike Pompeo said it, it’s true,” Kelly, who was also the former secretary of Homeland Security under Trump, told the Herald. “He (Pompeo) is a real good guy. He’s a very good public servant. … If he said it, it’s true.”
Iran, meanwhile, called the U.S. claims “maximum lies,” while a commander in its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard reiterated its forces could strike U.S. military bases across the Mideast with their arsenal of ballistic missiles.
In Washington, President Trump said Sunday evening that he had approved the release of U.S. strategic petroleum reserves “if needed” to stabilize energy markets. The president said the final amount of the release, if any, would be “sufficient to keep the markets well-supplied.”
Trump also tweeted, “Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!”
He added, “PLENTY OF OIL!”
The attacks and recriminations are increasing already heightened fears of an escalation in the region, after a prominent U.S. senator suggested striking Iranian oil refineries in response to the assault, and Iran warned of the potential of more violence.
Actions on any side could break into the open a twilight war that’s been raging just below the surface of the wider Persian Gulf in recent months. Already, there have been mysterious attacks on oil tankers that the U.S. blames on Tehran, at least one suspected Israeli strike on Shiite forces in Iraq, and Iran shooting down a U.S. military surveillance drone.
There was no immediate impact on global oil prices from the attacks as markets were closed for the weekend, but analysts anticipate a spike in oil prices when markets reopen Monday.
Saudi Arabia has promised to fill in the cut in production with its reserves, but has not said how long it will take to repair the damage. The Wall Street Journal cited Saudi officials as saying a third of output would be restored on Monday, but a return to full production may take weeks.
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