16 Sep The Latest: Trump says it’s ‘looking like’ Iran is to blame
Still, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that the U.S. “is prepared” if the attacks warrant a response.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also says “emerging information indicates that responsibility lies with Iran.”
Iran has denied involvement, though it comes amid heightened tensions over Tehran’s unraveling nuclear deal with world powers, including the U.S., which pulled out of the deal last year.
Trump says Pompeo will be traveling to Saudi Arabia but did not say when.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says he did not discuss the attack on a major Saudi Arabian oil refinery in a meeting with the leaders of Turkey and Iran.
The United States has suggested that Iran was behind the weekend attack that crippled a substantial share of Saudi Arabia’s oil production.
At a news conference Monday following the three-way meeting, Putin was asked if Russia would consider aiding Saudi Arabia following the attack and he suggested a tradeoff: The country should buy Russian surface-to-air missiles.
Putin said Saudi Arabia should “make a wise state decision, as the leaders of Iran did in their time by purchasing the S-300 and the way President Erdogan did, by purchasing the latest S-400 Triumph air defense systems from Russia.”
Russia’s U.N. ambassador, who currently chairs the U.N. Security Council, says the attacks on key Saudi oil installations were “unanimously and unequivocally condemned” by all 15 council members.
Vassily Nebenzia said after a council meeting on Yemen on Monday that “it is inadmissible that civil objects and socio-economic infrastructure are being targeted.”
He said the international community “should not hurry with conclusions” on who was responsible, noting conflicting reports with Yemen’s Shiite Houthi rebels claiming responsibility and the United States blaming Iran, which backs them.
As for President Donald Trump’s statement that the U.S. is “locked and loaded” to respond if necessary, Nebenzia said, “We are very concerned that incidents similar to this may provoke larger conflicts in the Gulf.”
Iran’s president says weekend drone attacks claimed by Yemeni rebels on major oil sites in Saudi Arabia were a “legitimate defense and counterattack” against the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
Iranian state TV broadcast Hassan Rouhani’s comments to reporters Monday during a summit in Turkey to discuss the war in Syria with the Russian and Turkish leaders.
Rouhani said: “Regarding the drones attack, this problem has its root in invading Yemen. They (the Saudi-led coalition) are bombing Yemen on a daily basis.”
The pre-dawn attacks Saturday were claimed by Iranian-backed Yemeni rebels, although there are questions about whether the drones were launched from Yemen.
Saudi Arabia has been at war with the Houthis in Yemen since early 2015.
The new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is calling the “deeply troubling” attacks on key Saudi oil installations “a direct assault on the world energy supply.”
Kelly Craft told a U.N. Security Council meeting on Yemen Monday that “the United States condemns these attacks in the strongest possible terms, standing firmly with our Saudi friends.”
She reiterated Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement that “there is no evidence that the attacks came from Yemen” and “emerging information indicates that responsibility lies with Iran.”
Craft said the U.S. backs U.N. envoy Martin Griffiths’ efforts to facilitate a Yemen peace agreement and calls on Iranian-backed Houthi Shiite rebels fighting the government “to cease escalatory attacks that have impacted civilians in Saudi Arabia.”
She also said “Iran must stop providing lethal aid in defiance of the (U.N.) arms embargo” against Yemen.
“Only an inclusive political settlement will guarantee Yemen’s stability, unity and prosperity in the long term,” Craft said.
The U.N. humanitarian chief is criticizing “a persistent pattern of attacks in Yemen that kill and injure civilians, or damage critical civilian infrastructure,” and says the operating environment for aid agencies “has perhaps never been worse.”
Mark Lowcock gave a grim assessment to the U.N. Security Council on Monday, saying that attacks – such as the Saudi-led coalition airstrikes two weeks ago that killed over 100 people in a rebel-run detention center – are “shocking, but otherwise, this kind of attack is disturbingly common.”
He says aid agencies reported 300 incidents that hindered humanitarian assistance in June and July, affecting 4.9 million people. He says most of those were due to restrictions imposed by the Houthi Shiite rebels fighting Yemen’s government.
On a positive note, Lowcock has announced that Saudi Arabia plans to transfer $500 million on Sept. 25 to fulfill a humanitarian pledge it made in February. He says the United Arab Emirates has just allocated $100 million to the U.N. World Food Program and $100 million to the U.N. humanitarian agency.
India has condemned attack on key Saudi oil installations over the weekend as an act of terrorism.
Raveesh Kumar, India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesman, expressed India’s resolve to “oppose terrorism in all its forms and manifestations” in a short statement Monday.
Saudi Arabia is India’s second-largest oil supplier after Iraq. India’s dependence on Saudi oil has been growing as it stops buying Iranian oil because of U.S. sanctions on Iran.
The attacks on Aramco’s main crude processing facility knocked out 5.7 million barrels of daily oil production for Saudi Arabia, or more than 5% of the world’s daily crude production.
Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels claimed they launched 10 drones that caused extensive damage at the Saudi sites. However, the U.S. released satellite images overnight that it says contain evidence showing that the attacks came from either Iraq or Iran.
The U.N. envoy for Yemen is appealing for an urgent move toward peace in the…