An ‘Act of War’ Says Pompeo, as Saudis Say Iran Was Behind Oil Attack

By Patrick Goodenough | September 18, 2019 | 8:17pm EDT
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meet in Jeddah on Wednesday. (Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

( – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, visiting Saudi Arabia to discuss a response to an unprecedented armed attack on the world’s biggest oil processing facility, told reporters traveling with him that the attack, which the U.S. and the Saudis are blaming on Iran, was “an act of war.”

“This was an Iranian attack,” Pompeo said en route to Jeddah on Wednesday morning, unequivocally rejecting the claim of responsibility by Houthi rebels in Yemen.

“It’s not the case that you can subcontract out the devastation of five percent of the world’s global energy supply and think that you can absolve yourself of responsibilities,” he said.

“We’re blessed that there were no Americans killed in this attack, but any time you have an act of war of this nature, there’s always risk that that could happen,” Pompeo said.

He said the U.S. intelligence community had “high confidence” that the weapons used in the attack were not in the Houthis’ possession, and that the projectiles had not come from the south – that is, the direction of Yemen.

Pompeo dismissed the Houthis’ claim as “fraudulent,” and charged that the Iranian-backed Shi’ite militia was known to lie.

As for a response, Pompeo said the U.S. was “working to build out a coalition to develop a plan to deter” the Iranians.

In Jeddah, Pompeo met with Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, and “discussed the recent attacks by Iran against oil facilities in Saudi Arabia,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a readout.

She said they agreed it was “an unacceptable and unprecedented attack that not only threatened Saudi Arabian national security, but also endangered the lives of all the American citizens living and working in Saudi Arabia, as well as the world’s energy supply in general.”

“The Secretary and the Crown Prince discussed the need for the international community to come together to counter the continued threat of the Iranian regime and agreed that the Iranian regime must be held accountable for its continued aggressive, reckless, and threatening behavior.”

Saudi military spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki presents drone and missile debris at a press conference in Riyadh on Wednesday. (Photo: Saudi Press Agency)

Saturday’s attack was massively disruptive, resulting in a 50 percent decline in Saudi oil production, amounting to five percent of global oil trade, and sparking record gains in the price of oil.

The Saudi military put on display Wednesday recovered cruise missile and drone debris which it said proved that the weaponry used in Saturday’s attacks were Iranian.

Spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki said a total of 25 drones and cruise missiles were used in the attack on the oil processing facility at Abqaiq and the Khurais oilfield. In the case of Abqaiq, three missiles had fallen short, two of which had been recovered.

Al-Malki did not say directly that Iran carried out the attack, but said the projectiles had come from the north and so “could not have been launched from Yemen.”

He said further that data extracted from drone components indicated that the technology was Iranian.

“All the evidence, in our presentation before you, leaves no doubt about the Iranian role in the sabotage,” al-Malki said. “We call on the international community to recognize Iran’s sabotage practices in the region and its responsibility for the recent attacks on the world’s most important energy site for the international community.”

The Iranian regime continues to deny responsibility for the attack on the Saudi facilities.

“These accusations are wholly, seriously and firmly rejected,” Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Amir Hatami told reporters Wednesday. “It’s easy to accuse someone without providing any proof,” he said. “It has no value.”

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