Trump says US response to oil attack depends on Saudi Arabia's assessment

Photograph: maldonci/AP

Donald Trump has said the US response to the attack on Saudi oil facilities will depend on the assessment in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, and downplayed US dependence on Middle East energy supplies.

Saturday’s attack on an oil field and processing plant. Estimates of the number of missiles used ranged from “nearly a dozen” to “over two dozen”.” data-reactid=”17″>Unnamed US officials were quoted in US media outlets as saying Iranian cruise missiles were used in Saturday’s attack on an oil field and processing plant. Estimates of the number of missiles used ranged from “nearly a dozen” to “over two dozen”.

The US and Saudi Arabia have accused Tehran of mounting the attack, but Iran’s president appeared to confirm a claim of responsibility by Yemen’s Houthi rebel group.

Speaking in Ankara, Hassan Rouhani said: “Yemeni people are exercising their legitimate right of defence … the attacks were a reciprocal response to aggression against Yemen for years.”

Intelligence officials in the region said they believed drones or missiles were used in the attack, in what appeared to be a carefully aimed strike at the heart of the Saudi economy.

“There was hardly a more strategic target they could have hit,” said one official. “They’ve looked at the map and said: ‘Where could we cause most damage.’ These were the hubs of their production across the country. Those sending the drones well knew the address.”

locked and loaded”, but left it to the Saudi government to confirm Iranian involvement and the nature of the US reaction, in an apparent attempt to make the monarchy take full responsibility for any reprisal action.” data-reactid=”22″>In a tweet on Sunday, Trump declared the US was “locked and loaded”, but left it to the Saudi government to confirm Iranian involvement and the nature of the US reaction, in an apparent attempt to make the monarchy take full responsibility for any reprisal action.

Trump’s top foreign policy and national security officials were expected to meet at the White House on Monday to discuss US options.

The Saudi military spokesman for the Riyadh-led coalition fighting in Yemen blamed Iran for the attack on the oil field and processing facility, but said it was still not clear where it had been launched from.

“The investigation is continuing and all indications are that weapons used in both attacks came from Iran,” Col Turki al-Maliki told reporters in Riyadh, according to the French press agency, AFP. He said the attacks had not been launched from Yemen and there was an investigation into “from where they were fired”.

Iraqi officials say the US has confirmed that an attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure was not carried out from Iraqi soil and instead appeared to launched from neighbouring Iran.

On Monday, Trump also played down the US national security interest in the Gulf, pointing to the fact that the US has become the world’s biggest energy producer.

president tweeted.” data-reactid=”29″>“We don’t need Middle Eastern Oil & Gas, & in fact have very few tankers there, but will help our Allies!” the president tweeted.

A senior White House official – the vice-president’s chief of staff, Marc Short – argued that when the president said the US was “locked and loaded”, it was a reference to the country’s self sufficiency in energy.

“I think that ‘locked and loaded’ is a broad term and talks about the realities that we’re all far safer and more secure domestically from energy independence,” Short said.

Everything you need to know about the Saudi Arabia oil attacks” data-reactid=”32″>Related: Everything you need to know about the Saudi Arabia oil attacks

The remarks seemed to be aimed at keeping the president’s options open on a response to the attack, which knocked out half Saudi production, 5% of global production and triggered a spike in oil prices. But the administration also showed determination that the world held Iran responsible.

Short said Pompeo would be presenting evidence of Iranian involvement. In one of a salvo of morning tweets on a wide range of topics, Trump noted that Iran had lied in the past about its military operations. And the US energy secretary, Rick Perry, called for a global response.

“The United States wholeheartedly condemns Iran’s attacks on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and we call on other nations to do the same,” Perry said. “This behavior is unacceptable and they must be held responsible.

Asked on CNBC what the response should be, Perry said: “I think there will be a coalition effort, both our friends in the Middle East that understand having a crazy neighbor is a real problem … [and] all those countries in that region should have the hair on the back of their necks standing up watching a country attack someone to manipulate the energy market.”

Speaking to the UN security council, Britain’s Karen Pierce said: “We are still assessing what happened and who is responsible for these attacks. Once this has been established, we will discuss with our allies and partners how to proceed in a responsible manner. We need a united international response to these despicable attacks.”

The UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths told the UN security council that the consequences of the attack were terrifying for Yemen, and “risked dragging the country into a regional conflagration”. He added: “Whatever we will discover of the attack, it is a sure sign that for Yemen, the direction of travel seems to be away from the peace we all seek. Every day that war goes on, the greater the threat to regional stability.

“We see the war not merely continuing to wreck the lives and livelihoods of men and women in Yemen. We also see it threatening to metastasise into something that threatens the existence of Yemen itself.”

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