22 September, 2019
By SJA Jafri + Agencies
RIYADH/ WASHINGTON: Saudi Arabia says it will respond with “necessary measures” to attacks on two oil facilities as it reiterated the accusation that Iran was behind them.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said the weapons used were Iranian and vowed to release the full findings of the investigation.
Iran denies involvement in the attacks.
Earlier, a senior Iranian military official said Iran was ready to destroy any aggressor after the US announced it was sending troops to Saudi Arabia.
Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have said they were responsible for the drone and missile strikes on 14 September that affected the global oil supply.
Tensions between the US and Iran have escalated since US President Donald Trump abandoned a deal limiting Iran’s nuclear activities last year and reinstated sanctions.
Speaking to reporters in Riyadh, Jubeir said Saudi Arabia was in consultation with its allies and would take necessary and suitable measures after its investigation was complete, without giving details of possible actions.
He repeated that the strikes targeting the Abqaiq oil facility and the Khurais oil field had come from the north and not from Yemen but did not give a specific location, and urged the international community to take a stand.
“The kingdom calls upon the international community to assume its responsibility in condemning those that stand behind this act, and to take a firm and clear position against this reckless behaviour that threatens the global economy,” he said.
The Saudi defence ministry showed off on Wednesday what it said were the remains of drones and cruise missiles proving Iranian involvement.
The US has also accused Iran of being behind the attacks, and unnamed senior officials have told US media that the evidence suggests the strikes originated in the south of Iran.
On Friday, Secretary of Defence Mark Esper said the US would send a yet-to-be-decide number of troops to Saudi Arabia to boost the country’s air and missile defences.
President Trump then announced new sanctions against Iran, focusing on the country’s central bank and its sovereign wealth fund, while signalling that he wanted to avoid military conflict.
The news conference in the glittering halls of Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry was fairly predictable in its customary condemnation of Iran.
The Islamic Republic, said the eloquent and softly-spoken minister of state for foreign affairs, was to blame for all the mischief-making in the region, including more than 260 ballistic missile attacks on Saudi Arabia by Iran’s Yemeni allies, the Houthis.
He appeared to fully endorse President Donald Trump’s controversial policy of maximum pressure on Iran’s leaders.
Adel al-Jubeir made no mention of his country’s bombing campaign in Yemen that, after more than four years, has failed to dislodge the Houthi rebels. Instead, he made it clear that now, in its hour of need, Saudi Arabia needed the support of its western allies more than ever, especially the US and Britain.
Iran: ‘We’ll pursue any aggressor’
Earlier, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in Iran, Maj Gen Hossein Salami, warned that the country’s “readiness to respond to any aggression is definitive”.
“Be careful, a limited aggression won’t remain limited. We’ll pursue any aggressor,” he said at the opening of an exhibition of captured drones in the capital, Tehran. “We’ll continue until the full destruction of any aggressor.”
Speaking at the same event, the head of the Guards’ aerospace branch, Brig Gen Amirali Hajizadeh, said the US ought to learn from its past failures and that any attack on Iran would receive “a crushing response”.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) are an elite branch of Iran’s military and have been designated a terrorist organization by the US.
The Houthis have repeatedly launched rockets, missiles and drones at populated areas in Saudi Arabia. They are in conflict with a Saudi-led coalition which backs a president who the rebels had forced to flee when the Yemeni conflict escalated in March 2015.
The war has killed nearly 10,000 people and pushed millions to the brink of starvation, the world’s worst man-made humanitarian disaster.
Iran, the regional rival of Saudi Arabia, is an opponent of the US, and tensions between the two have risen markedly this year. The US said Iran was behind attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf in June and July, as well as on another four in May – accusations rejected by Tehran.