US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has described the attack on Saudi oil facilities as “an act of war” that knocked out more than half the kingdom’s oil production.
Pompeo, who is Riyadh to discuss the matter with Saudi officials, said on Wednesday, “We were blessed that there were no Americans killed in this attack, but anytime you have an act of war of this nature, there’s always risk that that could happen. … This is an attack of a scale we’ve just not seen before.”
Yemen’s Houthi fighters have claimed responsibility for the attack on the Saudi oil facilities, but the United States has rejected the claim with President Donald Trump saying that Iran appears to be responsible for the strike.
Pompeo has put the blame for the operation on Iran, claiming, “Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia” and that “there is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.”
Tehran, however, dismissed the allegation, saying Washington seems to be shifting from a failed campaign of “maximum pressure” to one of “maximum lying” and “deceit” against the Islamic Republic.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a tweet that “US & its clients are stuck in Yemen because of illusion that weapon superiority will lead to military victory.”
Yemen said it used 10 drones for Saturday’s operation, which was one of their largest retaliatory attacks ever inside the kingdom.
The Yemeni army has said the raids were carried out on the back of an intelligence operation and in cooperation with “certain honorable and freedom-seeking individuals within Saudi Arabia.”
Pompeo says building ‘a coalition to deter Iran’
Pompeo on Wednesday said he is in the Middle East to build a coalition to deter Iran, which denies any involvement in the Saudi attack.
“I’m confident that in New York we’ll talk a lot about this and that the Saudis will too,” Pompeo said. “It was on their soil. It was an act of war against them directly, and I’m confident that they will do that.”
Earlier on Wednesday talking to reporters, Trump said he has “many options” on Iran.
Asked about a possible US war with Iran, Trump said “there are many options. There’s the ultimate option and there are options a lot less than that.”
He explained that by “ultimate option” he meant “war.”
“There’s plenty of time to do some dastardly things,” he said. “If we have to do something we’ll do it without hesitation.”
According to a statement on Pompeo’s official Twitter account on Thursday, the top US diplomat met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman where he said the United States supports Saudi Arabia’s “right to defend itself” and said Iran’s behavior would “not be tolerated,” as Washington ups the ante with Tehran.
In response to Pompeo’s tweet, a journalist asked, “Did you get a chance to discuss your #genocide in #Yemen? Or was it all about your despotic puppets’ management of theft of Arab people’s oil and gas?”
Iran has warned the United States that any action taken against the country over the false accusation that Tehran was behind the attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities will be met with an immediate response.
In an official note passed to the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which represents American interests, Iran reiterated that it was not behind the Saturday attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities.
It condemned and rejected claims by Trump and Pompeo that Iran had been involved.
“If any action takes place against Iran, the action will be faced by Iran’s answer immediately,” the note said.