Iran leader rules out United States talks amid tensions over Saudi attacks

Clay Curtis
September 18, 2019

Iranian state TV quoted Khamenei as saying this is the position of the entire leadership of the country.

Asked if Washington was certain that the missiles had been launched from Iranian soil, the official answered: "Yes".

The US military, he said, was working with its partners to "address this unprecedented attack and defend the worldwide rules-based order that is being undermined by Iran".

The kingdom is close to restoring 70% of the 5.7 million barrels per day lost due to the attack, a top Saudi official said, adding that Aramco's output would be fully back online in the next two to three weeks.

The worst ever sudden disruption to global oil supplies continues to reverberate as geopolitical risk premiums soar on concern over instability in the Middle East and a potential retaliation against Iran, which the USA has blamed for the strikes.

"Certainly, it would look to most like it was Iran", Trump said Monday.

Trump said he was sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Saudi Arabia soon, but he had not made any commitments to protect the Saudis.

"Whether this is a short or long term trend will be determined by the price of crude oil prices and how quickly the facilities in Saudi Arabia can recover and get back online", said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. USA officials say they believe it came from the opposite direction, possibly from Iran.

Washington and Tehran have seen relations deteriorate since Trump unilaterally withdrew the USA from the Iran nuclear deal. It was the worst such attack on regional oil facilities since Saddam Hussein torched Kuwait's oil wells during the 1990-91 Gulf war.

"The president's being cautious, and if he were banging the gong today about Iran being the culprit, inevitably, without presenting the case to the American people, everyone would be saying he's a warmonger", said White House spokesman Hogan Gidley.

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The analysts' task was to connect the dots provided by satellite data and other highly classified intelligence with physical evidence from the scene of the attack, which American-provided Saudi defences had failed to stop.

Saudi Arabia said the attacks were carried out with Iranian weapons, adding that it was capable of responding forcefully and urging United Nations experts to help investigate the raid.

UN Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths told the UN Security Council on Monday it was "not entirely clear" who was behind the strike but he said it had increased the chances of a regional conflict.

The Supreme Leader of the Revolution tapped on the new offer by USA officials for negotiating and stressed that by negotiations, the US seeks to impose their demands on Iran and showcase the impact of maximum pressure on Iran.

No previous attack, since the Yemen conflict began four years ago, however, has interrupted oil supplies. Shortly afterward, Trump ordered a military strike against Iran before changing his mind at the very last second.

The Saudis invited the United Nations and other global experts to help investigate, suggesting there was no rush to retaliate and that the kingdom is looking for an internationally backed response to the attack.

For Justin Bronk, the author of a report on drone use by the Houthis and others in the Middle East for the Royal United Services Institute, a UK military think-tank, the size of some of the blast holes on supplied photos of the smoldering plants may suggest cruise missile attacks, which would indicate Iranian involvement.

The attacks have raised questions about how the kingdom, one of the world's top spenders on weaponry, much of it supplied by USA companies, was unable to protect oil plants from attack. Iran has repeatedly threatened that if it is prevented from selling its oil, other exporting countries will also suffer.

The Huthis said 10 drones struck the sites, but Saudi Arabia pointed the finger of blame at Iran.

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