Pence Echoes Trump’s ‘Locked and Loaded’ Comment, Says US Will Act to Defend Gulf Allies and Interests

By Patrick Goodenough | September 17, 2019 | 10:10pm EDT
Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

( – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo headed to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for discussions on the unprecedented military attack on the kingdom’s oil infrastructure, as U.S. officials were reported to have determined that the attack, using drones and cruise missiles, was launched from Iranian soil.

Vice President Mike Pence, meanwhile, repeated President Trump’s earlier assertion that the U.S. was “locked and loaded,” telling a Heritage Foundation event that the U.S. was ready to defend its interests and allies in the region.

“In the wake of this weekend’s unprovoked attack on several oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, I promise you: We’re ready,” he said. “As the president said yesterday, it’s ‘certainly looking’ like Iran was behind these attacks.”

“And our intelligence community, at this very hour, is working diligently to review the evidence. And the secretary of state is traveling to Saudi Arabia today to discuss our response.”

Pence said Trump “will determine the best course of action in the days ahead.”

“The United States of America will take whatever action is necessary to defend our country, our troops, and our allies in the Gulf,” he said. “You can count on it.”

The State Department said Pompeo will meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah on Wednesday to discuss the attack – which targeted the Khurais oil field and an oil processing center in Abqaiq, the world’s largest – “and coordinate efforts to counter Iranian aggression in the region.”

He will then hold talks with Emirati Crown Mohammed bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi.

The Iranian regime continues to deny involvement in Saturday’s attacks, for which its Houthi allies in Yemen claimed responsibility.

But U.S. officials told wire agencies and networks Tuesday that investigators have determined projectiles used in the attack were launched from Iranian territory.

One official told the AFP news agency that evidence of the strike, involving both drones and cruise missiles, would be presented at next week’s U.N. General Assembly opening session, an event that attracts numerous world leaders each fall.

NBC News cited two unnamed U.S. officials as saying low-altitude cruise missiles were launched from at least one location in western Iran.

Officials told CNN and CBS News that a missile or missiles passed through the airspace of Kuwait. This could mean it or they were launched from Iranian territory near the Iran-Iraq border, and crossed over Kuwait on a southern trajectory en route to the targets in Saudi Arabia.

Kuwaiti authorities are probing reports that a “drone” was seen over the coast near Kuwait City in the early hours of Saturday. The attack on the Saudi facilities took place early on Saturday.

Damage seen in satellite imagery of the targeted Saudi sites, released by the U.S., appear to point to projectiles having come from the north, rather than from a southerly direction, which would be the case had they been launched from Yemen as the Houthis claim.

As a result of Saturday’s attacks Saudi Arabia’s daily oil exports, totaling some 9.6 million barrels per day, were reduced by more than half, or 5.7 million barrels.

On Tuesday, Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman announced that half of the production loss has now been restored, and that the rest would be restored by the end of September.

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