Iran’s foreign minister has warned that any Saudi or US military strike would result in ‘all-out-war’, after the allies blamed Tehran for attacks on Saudi oil at the weekend.
Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iranians ‘won’t blink to defend our territory’ and are willing to fight ‘to the last American soldier’ in the event of an invasion.
But he stressed that Iran is not looking for a war and is willing to return to the negotiating table, provided America complies with the 2015 nuclear deal that President Trump ripped up last year.
Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iranians ‘won’t blink to defend our territory’ and warned of ‘all-out war’ in the event of any military strike by Saudi Arabia or America
Zarif spoke out after Saudi Arabia unveiled what it called ‘undeniable evidence’ of Iran’s involvement in attacks on its oil facilities at the weekend
Saudi says a total of 25 drones and cruise missiles were launched against its oil facilities, all of which struck their targets with the exception of four missiles which fell short
Speaking to CNN, Zarif continued to deny any Iranian responsibility for the attacks, instead pointing to Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have claimed responsibility.
Riyadh and Washington have both said they have ‘undeniable evidence’ of Tehran’s guilt, and are now pondering their next move.
Mike Pompeo described the attacks as an ‘act of war’ ahead of a meeting with Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s defence minister, on Wednesday.
After the meeting he tweeted that Saudi has ‘a right to defend itself’ and would be supported by America.
Ahead of the meeting Salman said the strikes – which knocked out 5 per cent of global oil supplies – were an attack against the world economy, but stopped short of demanding action.
President Trump has also refused to rule out military action, saying the ‘ultimate option’ for him would mean starting a war and putting US boots on the ground.
However, he is privately though to favour a limited response which would see America provide logistical support to Saudi Arabia.
The sabre-rattling comes after Saudi Arabia held a press conference and revealed a total of 25 cruise missiles and drones were used to attack its refinery at Abqaiq and oil field at Khurais on Saturday last week.
Mike Pompeo (pictured meeting Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman) has described the attack as an ‘act of war’ and said Saudi has ‘a right to defend itself’
President Trump has refused to rule out military action, but is privately thought to favour a limited response that would involve providing logistical support to Saudi Arabia
Saudi said seven cruise missiles were fired at Khurais, of which four fell short of their target, while the remaining three struck home.
Meanwhile 18 Delta Wing drones targeted the Abqaiq refinery, all of which were able to strike their targets.
Spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki said the technology used, the position of damage seen on the oil facilities, and likely range of the weapons means they could not have been launched from Yemen – as Iran claims – but instead came from the north.
France, which has sent investigators to Saudi to help uncover the source of the attack, also said Thursday that claims the attack came from Yemen ‘lack credibility’.
Colonel Al-Maliki admitted that Saudi Arabia has not yet pinpointed the exact launch site, but said the ultimate responsibility for the attack must lay with Iran because such weapons could only be launched with the regime’s help.
US officials say they have evidence the attack was launched from an Iranian airbase on Iranian soil, though that evidence has not yet been made public.
Washington believes the weapons were fired through southern Iraq and Kuwait – skirting around powerful radar defences in the Persian Gulf – and into Saudi Arabia before slamming into the oil facilities.
Saudi Arabia said 18 Iranian Delta Wing drones were launched against its oil refinery at Abqaiq, all of which are though to have hit their targets
Blast holes at the top of gas tanks at the Abqaiq facility are seen in a satellite image provided by Washington. Saudi says the holes are consistent with an attack from the north
The strike, which happened late on Saturday, knocked out half of Saudi Arabia’s oil capacity and disrupted 5 per cent of global supplies
The disruption was the single largest interruption in the world’s oil supplies, topping the start of the Iranian revolution in 1979
Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian President, said Wednesday that the strike was ‘a warning’ to Saudi Arabia to stop its war in Yemen.
The Sunni kingdom is leading a coalition which has been fighting against the Houthis in Yemen since 2015, leaving hundreds of thousands dead and the country facing widespread starvation.
Houthi leaders say the attack was carried out using drones, as they have done in previous attacks on Saudi oil supplies, but analysts say Saturday’s attack shows a level of sophistication not previously seen from the group.
Pompeo was to next visit the United Arab Emirates to meet with Abu Dhabi’s powerful crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The UAE is a close ally of Saudi Arabia and joined the kingdom in its war in Yemen against the Houthis.
The UAE announced Thursday it had joined a U.S.-led coalition to protect waterways across the Mideast after an attack on Saudi oil installations.
The state-run WAM news agency quoted Salem al-Zaabi of the Emirati Foreign Ministry as saying the UAE joined the coalition to ‘ensure global energy security and the continued flow of energy supplies to the global economy.’
Saudi Arabia joined the coalition on Wednesday. Australia, Bahrain and the United Kingdom also are taking part.
The U.S. formed the coalition after attacks on oil tankers that American officials blame on Iran, as well as Iran’s seizure of tankers in the region.
Iran denies being behind the tanker explosions, though the attacks came after Tehran threatened to stop oil exports from the Persian Gulf.