Iran denied Sunday it was involved in Yemen rebel drone attacks that hit the world’s biggest oil processing facility and an oil field in Saudi Arabia, just hours after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tehran was behind the “unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.”
Saturday’s drone attacks hit Abqaiq, site of Aramco’s largest oil processing plant, and the Khurais oilfield. The hits resulted in “the temporary suspension of production operations” at both sites, Riyadh said, cutting Saudi Arabia’s crude oil supply by around 5.7 million barrels per day or about 50 percent of its output.
While markets remained closed Sunday, the attack could shock world energy prices. They also increased overall tensions in the region amid an escalating crisis between the U.S. and Iran over Tehran’s unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.
Late Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo directly blamed Iran:
Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy. 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.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) September 14, 2019
“Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy,” Pompeo tweeted, referencing Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani and foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
“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,” Pompeo continued, providing no evidence that Iran was behind the attacks.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, Seyyed Abbas Mousavi, rejected the accusation that Iran was in any way responsible.
“Such blind accusations and inappropriate comments in a diplomatic context are incomprehensible and meaningless,” he said, adding: “even hostility needs a certain degree of credibility and reasonable frameworks, US officials have also violated these basic principles.”
U.S. officials previously alleged at least one recent drone attack on Saudi Arabia came from Iraq, whereSaudi Arabia Iran backs Shiite militias. Those militias in recent weeks have been targeted themselves by mysterious airstrikes.
According to the Wall Street Journal, officials are investigating the possibility that the attacks involved cruise missiles.
AP contributed to this report