Sept. 15 (UPI) — Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif on Sunday refuted allegations by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo his nation was involved in drone attacks that knocked out two oil plants in Saudi Arabia and will likely cause oil prices to increase worldwide.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who have been engaged in a bloody war with Saudi Arabia since Riyadh launched an offensive in Yemen in 2015, have claimed responsibility for the attacks, which took place around 4 a.m. local time Saturday, and cut the kingdom’s oil output in half.
“Having failed at ‘max pressure’, @SecPompeo’s turning to ‘max deceit’,” Zarif posted on Twitter on Sunday. He was referring to the President Donald Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” policy of sanctions on Iran.
“Blaming Iran won’t end disaster. Accepting our April ’15 proposal to end war & begin talks may,” Zarif added.
Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said earlier that “such useless accusations… are meaningless and not comprehensible and are pointless.”
On Saturday, Pompeo said Iran, which has provided material support to the rebels, was involved in the attacks, specifically naming President Hassan Rouhani and Zarif, the foreign minister
“Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy,” Pompeo posted on Twitter. “Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.
“We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran’s attacks. The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression.”
A Yemeni military spokesman told the Houthi-run Al-Masirah news agency it was a “large-scale” attack with 10 drones that hit its targeted Saudi Aramco oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais.
It’s the biggest attack carried on Saudi oil infrastructure since Saddam Hussein’s scud missile attacks during the first Gulf War in the 1990.
After the attacks, Saudi Arabia halted half of its oil production, or 5.7 million barrels of crude oil per day, or 5 percent of global oil supply. Abqaiq has a crude oil processing capacity of 7 million barrels per day
Officials at Saudi Aramco, the kingdom’s state oil giant and the world’s largest company, are likely deliver a report Monday after assessing the damage. The fires were under control and authorities were investigating, the Saudi Interior Ministry tweeted.
They are investigating the possibility that the attacks involved cruise missiles,
the Wall Street Journal reported.
Energy Secretary Rick Perry “stands ready to deploy resources from the Strategic Petroleum Oil Reserves if necessary to offset any disruptions to oil markets,” Department of Energy spokesperson Shaylyn Hynes said in a statement. Around 630 million barrels are in the reserves, “exactly for this purpose,” Hynes said.
Perry also has directed his agency to work with the International Energy Agency “on potential available options for collective global action if needed.”
White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement.
the government “is monitoring the situation and remains committed to ensuring global oil markets are stable and well supplied.”
Trump called Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman on Saturday to offer his support for the kingdom.
“The United States strongly condemns today’s attack on critical energy infrastructure,” Deere said. “Violent actions against civilian areas and infrastructure vital to the global economy only deepen conflict and mistrust.
Since Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and re-imposed sweeping sanctions on Iran last year, tensions have risen between the two nations.