Iran has dismissed US accusations it was behind drone attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil plants, and warned it is ready for a “full-fledged” war.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said Washington had adopted a “maximum pressure” strategy against Iran, but because of “it’s failure [the US] is leaning toward maximum lies”.
His remarks came as a senior commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said America’s military bases and aircraft carriers, which are stationed up to 1,243 miles around Iran, were within range of Iranian missiles.
Amirali Hajizadeh was also quoted by the Tasnim news agency as saying that Iran has always been ready for a “full-fledged” war, without mentioning Saturday’s explosions in Saudi Arabia.
Saturday’s drone attacks – which Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have claimed they carried out – have halted around half of Saudi oil supplies after hitting the kingdom’s biggest oil processing facility and a major oil field.
They set off huge fires, leading to a suspension of production operations at the Abqaiq facility and the Khurais field, some 205 miles north-east of the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
US President Donald Trump called Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman following the attack, expressing US support for the kingdom’s security and stability.
The crown prince assured Mr Trump that Saudi Arabia is “willing and able to confront and deal with this terrorist aggression”.
Secretary of state Mike Pompeo described the attacks as “unprecedented” and pointed the finger at Tehran.
He wrote on Twitter: “Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while [Iran’s president and foreign minister] 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.”
In response, Iran’s foreign minister said blaming Tehran for Houthi rebel attacks would not end the Yemen conflict.
Javad Zarif tweeted that having failed at “max pressure” Mr Pompeo was turning to “max deceit”.
Having failed at “max pressure”, @SecPompeo‘s turning to “max deceit”
US & its clients are stuck in Yemen because of illusion that weapon superiority will lead to military victory.
Blaming Iran won’t end disaster. Accepting our April ’15 proposal to end war & begin talks may.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) September 15, 2019
“US & its clients are stuck in Yemen because of illusion that weapon superiority will lead to military victory,” he said.
“Blaming Iran won’t end disaster. Accepting our April ’15 proposal to end war & begin talks may.”
While markets remain closed Sunday, the attack could shock world energy prices.
Saudi Arabia’s energy minister confirmed the attacks on its oil facilities knocked around 50% of the country’s production, adding it will make up for some of the loss with oil stocks.
In a statement, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman bin Abdulaziz said explosions at Saudi Aramco’s Khurais and Abqaiq plants caused several fires, but no one was injured.
The minister said 5.7 million barrels a day of oil production were lost, and the supply of ethane and natural gas was also cut by around half, according to preliminary estimates.
He said Aramco would provide an update within 48 hours of restoring full production.
The minister said the attacks were aimed not only at Saudi Arabia, but also at the world’s oil supply and its security.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels said on state TV that they were behind the attacks, with military spokesperson Yahia Sarie threatening more of the same unless the kingdom ends the war.
Mr Sarie said: “The only option for the Saudi government is to stop attacking us.”
The Saudi-led coalition has been fighting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen since March 2015 in a war that has killed tens of thousands of Yemenis and pushed the country to the brink of famine.
Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil giant, has not yet commented on the drone attacks.
It describes its Abqaiq oil processing facility as “the largest crude oil stabilisation plant in the world” which is able to produce up to seven million barrels of crude oil a day.
The Khurais oil field is thought to produce more than one million barrels of crude oil a day.
UK foreign affairs minister Andrew Murrison said the strike was “totally unacceptable” and that the “Houthis must stop undermining Saudi Arabia’s security by threatening civilian areas and commercial infrastructure”.
The UK foreign office said the UK “condemns the reckless drone attack” and that “threatening civilian areas and commercial infrastructure is dangerous, provocative and completely unacceptable”.
France also condemned Saturday’s attack, saying such actions “can only worsen regional tensions and risk of conflict.”
“These actions can only worsen regional tensions and risk of conflict,” the ministry added. “It is imperative that they stop.”