President Donald Trump said Monday that it appears Iran was behind the drone attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities – even as he awaits more information and said the U.S. would like to avoid a military conflict.
‘Well, it’s looking that way,’ Trump said of Iranian responsibility during a meeting with the Crown Prince of Bahrain.
The president also said he and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are on the same page when it comes to assessing who was behind the attack on Saudi – after the nation’s top diplomat pointed the finger at Tehran.
‘I think we just want to find out the final numbers and see – You look at a vector, and you look at – there are lots of different things we can look at,’ Trump told DailyMail.com as he left the White House for New Mexico. ‘And we’ll know for certain over the next pretty short period of time.’
Asked if he would order military action if he is sure who was behind the attack, Trump said: ‘Then we’re going to decide.’
When a reporter asked if the response would be proportionate, Trump responded: ”I would say yes.’
Trump was asked if it was a good idea to trust the assessment of Saudi Arabia, when the Saudi government lied in its initial statements about the killing in government custody of dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
‘Oh, I think so. Look, they want to find out also, and I think they probably feel they know. But we’re going to know very, very quickly. We have pretty much all the material we need. We’ll know very quickly,’ the president said.
‘Well, it’s looking that way,’ Trump said of Iranian responsibility for the attacks on Saudi Arabia during a meeting with the Crown Prince of Bahrain.
He told reporters in the Oval Office: ‘We’ll let you know definitively. … That’s being checked out right now,’ the president said, without clarifying by whom.’
The president said ‘there are ways to see definitively where [the drones attack] came from.
”We have a lot of options but right now i’m not looking at options. We want to find out definitively who did this,’ Trumps said.
His comment came after his secretary of state also pointed the finger at Iran, and U.S. intelligence officials reportedly reached the same conclusion.
The president avoided definitive language, saying it ‘certainly would look’ like Iran was behind the attacks. The U.S. has already determined that they didn’t come from Iraq or from neighboring Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is overseeing a brutal proxy war.
He said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would be heading to Saudi Arabia soon.
‘They also know something that most people don’t know as to where it came from, who did it, and we’ll be able to find that out,’ Trump teased.
Trump, who on Sunday used firearms logo to say the U.S. was ‘locked and loaded,’ said the U.S. was more prepared than any country in history for armed conflict.
‘I don’t war with anybody but we’re prepared more than anybody,’ he said.
‘The United States is more prepared than any country in the history, in any history, if we have to go that way,’ he said.
‘With all that being said, we’d certainly like to avoid it,’ he cautioned.
He also gave indications that Saudi Arabia, who has the world third highest military expenditures, would be involved in paying for any response.
‘I know that monetarily we’ll be very much involved in paying for that. … The fact is the Saudis are going to have a lot of involvement in this, if we decide to do something,’ Trump said. ‘They’ll be very much involved, and that includes payment. And they understand that fully.’
‘That was a very large attack, and it could be met with an attack many, many times larger,’ the president said.
And he said diplomatic avenues weren’t exhausted.
‘No, it’s never exhausted. … You never know what’s going to happen. … I know they want to make a deal,’ he said of Iran.
‘At some point it will work out,’ he promised, with global financial markets on edge after a spike of 10 per cent in crude oil prices following the attack on the world’s largest oil exporter.
Trump did talk up the U.S. military stockpile.
‘More rockets, more tanks. We have more of in everything than we’ve had before,’ the president said.
President Donald Trump shakes hands with Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, in Washington
White House adviser Jared Kushner attends a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa in the Oval Office of the White House on September 16, 2019
Trumps aid the issue was responsibility for the attack was ‘being checked out right now’
The White House national security council convened on Monday amid growing indications that U.S. intelligence believes Iran served as the staging area for a drone attack on U.S. ally Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure.
U.S. officials say it is Iran, a country already engaged in a proxy war with the Saudis, that was the base for drone attack that hit two of the country’s oil facilities over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal reported late Monday morning.
Saudi Arabia has already said Iran was responsible, and the U.S. has informed Iraq that it did not serve as the staging area.
Iraq’s government says Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi the U.S. has information confirming his government’s denials of being the place where the attacks originated.
The White House national security council convened on Monday amid growing indications that U.S. intelligence believes Iran served as the staging area for a drone attack on Saudi oil facilities Saturday
Houthi rebels battling Saudi-backed forces in Yemen have claimed responsibility, but the U.S. does not believe the claim has credibility.
The assessments come as President Trump himself weighed in with a Tweet that called out Iran for a ‘big lie’ about its own prior claims after shooting down a U.S. drone – and suggesting Iran’s current denials are not to be believed.
‘Remember when Iran shot down a drone, saying knowingly that it was in their ‘airspace’ when, in fact, it was nowhere close,’ the president wrote, without using a question mark.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has told Iraq that the U.S. does not believe it was the staging area
A satellite image shows an apparent drone strike on an Aramco oil facility in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia September 14, 2019
‘They stuck strongly to that story knowing that it was a very big lie. Now they say that they had nothing to do with the attack on Saudi Arabia. We’ll see?’
The statement followed an earlier tweet that the U.S. is ‘locked and loaded .’
The administration called off a military strike on Iran after the June downing of the sophisticated drone. The New York Times reported that Trump had approved the strikes shortly before calling them off.
Trump’s security team no longer includes former National Security Advisor John Bolton, an Iran hawk. Bolton was forced out last week (he says he resigned, Trump claims he was fired).
Donald Trump accused Iran of lying about its involvement in an attack on a Saudi Arabian oil facility, saying Monday that the regime has a history of making false claims about its corrosive actions
In his Sunday ‘locked and loaded’ tweet, Trump also said the U.S. was ‘waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!’ – a line that drew sharp criticism that the U.S. was deferring to an ally sometimes referred to as a client state.
Even as he hears from members of his security team, Trump is also getting plenty of on-air advice.
‘I think this cannot go without retribution,’ said Fox News host Brian Kilmeade.
Said co-host Steve Doocey, as compiled by left-wing media watchdog Media Matters: ‘They have provoked us before. Think about the tankers they have seized, they shot one of our drones out of the sky, and now it looks like this, even though the Houthi rebels are saying, ‘Oh we did it, 100%.’ Yeah, right.’
Then Kilmeade concluded: ”The drone attacks, extremely disturbing from a security standpoint: What stops it from happening here? We have to keep the Strait of Hormuz open, and we’ve got to protect the world’s oil supply.’
Saudi Arabia says Iran is directly responsible for the drone attacks on an oil field and refinery at the weekend which have disrupted global supplies.
Colonel Turki al-Malki said initial investigations show the strikes were not launched from Yemen, as the Iran-backed Houthi rebels there have claimed, and were carried out using weapons manufactured by Tehran.
He did not say what evidence Saudi Arabia has uncovered directly linking Iran to the strikes, but promised it would be made public when the probe has finished.
It comes after President Trump tweeted that the US was ‘locked and loaded depending on verification’, suggesting that he was waiting for confirmation from Riyadh before acting.
Saudi Arabia’s Colonel Turki al-Malki said drone strikes against two of his country’s oil facilities at the weekend did not come from Yemen, and pointed the finger directly at Tehran
The Abqaiq oil processing facility (pictured on fire) and Khurais oil field in Saudi Arabia were both rocked by explosions Sunday which cut off 5 per cent of the world’s supplies
Donald Trump tweeted Sunday to say that US is ‘locked and loaded depending on verification’, suggesting he was waiting for Riyadh’s confirmation before acting
Tehran has denied any responsibility for the attacks, which have cut Saudi Arabia’s oil exports in half and reduced global output by 5 per cent, saying all accusations to the contrary are ‘baseless’.
However, a spokesman for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace force said the country stood ready for a ‘full-fledged war’ with America, should they attack.
A senior US official who spoke to ABC Sunday said Iran had launched a dozen cruise missiles and 20 drones from its territory at the world’s largest refinery at Abqaiq, and the Khurais oil field.
The official said Trump is ‘fully aware’ that Iran is responsible, but wanted the Saudis to request US assistance before acting.
The Trump administration also released black and white satellite images overnight which it said showed 17 impact sites at the Saudi facilities, which it said faced towards the north and northwest, towards Iran and Iraq.
However, Houthi rebels, who have been fighting against a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen since 2015, continued to claim responsibility for the blasts on Monday.
‘We assure the Saudi regime that our long hand can reach any place we want at any time we choose,’ Houthi military spokesman Brigadier Yahya Saree said.
While the Houthis have used drones to attack Saudi oil infrastructure in recent months, the blasts have been centred around the border area and have shown a low level of sophistication when compared with Saturday’s bombing.
The Trump administration released satellite photos on Sunday which it said shows damage to the Saudi oil refinery at Abqaiq on the north or northwest side of the buildings, which would be consistent with an attack from Iran or Iraq
An overview of the Abaqaiq oil processing facility before the attacks took place
This image shows damage to the infrastructure at Saudi Aramco’s Khurais oil field, which the Trump administration said also shows an attack from the north
A pre-strike overview at Saudi Aramco’s Khurais oil field
Abqaiq and Khurais are also located close to the Persian Gulf, away from Yemen, making Iran or Iraq a more-likely point of origin.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has led calls for Tehran to be held responsible for the bombing, tweeting on Saturday: ‘Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.
‘There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.’
On Monday, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry unequivocally blamed Iran, describing the drone strikes as: ‘Iran’s attack on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Perry said the behaviour is ‘unacceptable’ and that Iran ‘must be held responsible.’
Germany and the UK have both condemned the attack, but said they are waiting for further information to become available before deciding who is responsible.
China, a major importer of Saudi oil, and Russia, a close ally of Iran, have both urged restraint in responding to the attack, though did not rule out Iranian responsibility.