Trump says US locked and loaded in response to drone attack

Daniel Fowler
September 19, 2019

Later when asked whether any potential USA military response would be proportional to an Iranian attack, he said, "I think it would".

Prices retreated after U.S. President Donald Trump approved the use of his country's emergency oil stockpile to ensure stable supply.

The Iran-aligned Houthi group that controls Yemen's capital said they carried out the attacks with 10 drones, but American media have reported that U.S. officials had satellite images showing the attacks - possibly with drones and cruise missiles - had come from the north or northwest, rather than Yemen.

Iran for its part called the US allegations "maximum lies".

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani saying the strikes were carried out by "Yemeni people" retaliating for attacks by a Saudi-led military coalition in a war with Yemen's Houthi movement.

The attacks at an oil processing facility at Abqaiq and an oil field at Khurais on Saturday knocked out almost 6 million barrels of daily crude production, officials said. The spread between Brent and WTI widened as much as 37%, showing that the oil spike will affect global prices more than those in the US, where shale output and ample supplies provide more of a buffer. US gasoline and heating oil similarly were up over 8% and 7% respectively before markets opened in NY.

Tensions have escalated since drone attacks on two major oil facilities in Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

The loss of the 5.7 million barrels of Saudi crude production represents the largest such disruption on record, according to figures from the Paris-based International Energy Agency.

Kloza said gasoline prices will likely "creep up" this fall, rather than drop steadily, as they historically have done. "The same figures say that 16% of United States oil comes from the Persian Gulf region, and 29% from OPEC countries".

A USA official said all options, including a military response, were on the table, but added that no decisions had been made.

Mr Trump has said his goal is to force Iran to negotiate a tougher agreement and has left open the possibility of talks with President Hassan Rouhani at an upcoming United Nations meeting.

Trump says US locked and loaded in response to drone attack

But "satellite imagery can't show you where the attack originated from", said Joe Bermudez, an expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who examined the images.

Relations between the United States and Iran have deteriorated since Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear accord previous year and reimposed sanctions over Tehran's nuclear and ballistic programs.

"To take out over 5% of global supply in a single strike - a volume exceeding cumulative non-OPEC supply growth over 2014-2018 - is highly worrying", UBS analysts said in a note.

US Energy Secretary Rick Perry pinned the blame squarely on Iran for "an attack on the global economy and the global energy market".

But Amrita Sen, analyst at Energy Aspects, told Sky News that consumers will see the impact of today's oil price spike in a few weeks time.

All signs point to the 10 drones that conducted the attacks being directed by Iran, which is backing the Houthis, an armed religious and political group, in a conflict with Saudi Arabia.

"It wasn't an attack on us, but we would certainly help them", he said, noting a decades-long alliance linked to USA oil dependence that has lessened in recent years.

The U.S. still imports a hefty amount of oil, and in 2018 it brought in 2.34 million barrels of oil per day, representing 11% of the petroleum consumed in the country.

Book argues the attack on Saudi Arabia is driving home the repercussions of the unraveling of the Iran nuclear deal after President Donald Trump pulled the USA out in 2018, imposing harsh sanctions on Iran, including its oil industry.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also took to Twitter, blaming Iran for the attack on state oil giant Aramco, instead of Yemen's Houthi rebels who have claimed responsibility.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi dismissed Washington's accusations, calling them "blind and futile".

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