The pre-dawn attacks on September 14 knocked out more than half of the top global exporter’s output – five percent of the global oil supply – or about 5.7 million barrels per day.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed responsibility but US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo swiftly accused Iran, which rejected the allegations.
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, promised to “confront and deal with this terrorist aggression”, while US President Donald Trump hinted at possible military action.
As the United Nations General Assembly kicks off its 74th session in New York City, here are the latest updates:
Friday, September 27
Erdogan vows to continue oil, natural gas trade with Iran
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed Ankara would continue to purchase oil and natural gas from Iran despite US sanctions.
“It is impossible for us to cancel relations with Iran with regards to oil and natural gas. We will continue to buy our natural gas from there,” Erdogan told Turkish reporters before leaving New York where he was attending the UN General Assembly.
Despite this vow, Erdogan admitted Turkey faced difficulty in purchasing oil since the private sector “pulled back because of US threats”, NTV broadcaster reported.
“But on this issue especially and many other issues, we will continue our relations with Iran,” he promised, adding that Ankara still sought to increase trade volume with Tehran.
Thursday, September 26
Saudi: apply ‘utmost pressure’ on Iran
Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf, called on the UN and the world to apply “utmost pressure with every tool available” to end what he said was Iran’s aggressive conduct.
At UNGA on Thursday, the foreign minister again blamed Iran for the September 14 missile and drone attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities and said the best way to control Tehran was by cutting off its financial resources.
Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan, at the UN, said the speech was “tough”, but noted that when a country was looking for international support after such an attack it would normally call for an emergency meeting of the Security Council.
“There’s been no such request from the Saudi government.”
Pentagon to bolster Saudi defences
The Pentagon said it plans to send four radar systems, a battery of Patriot missiles, and about 200 support personnel to bolster Saudi Arabia’s defences after the largest-ever attack on the kingdom’s oil facilities this month.
The deployment details clarify the Pentagon’s announcement last week about US plans to deploy more forces to Saudi Arabia after the September 14 attack on the world’s biggest crude oil processing facility, which Washington has blamed on Iran.
In a statement, the US military said it was also putting additional capabilities on “prepare to deploy orders” – meaning they could be mobilised more quickly in a crisis. These include two additional Patriot missile batteries and a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD.
Rouhani says ‘evidence’ needed
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani challenged countries who accused Iran of carrying out this month’s attack on a Saudi Arabian oil facility to provide evidence.
“Those who make the allegations must provide the needed proof. What is your evidence?” he told reporters in New York, a day after addressing the UN General Assembly.
The United States, France, Germany and Britain have all blamed Iran for the attacks on the kingdom’s Abqaiq plant and the Khurais oil field, which knocked out half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production.
Rouhani also urged the US to “cease this policy of maximum pressure” in favour of “dialogue, and logic and reason”.
Khamenei: not counting on European help
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said European countries were unlikely to help Iran against US sanctions and Tehran “should give up all hope” in that regard, according to his official website.
“Despite their promises, the Europeans have practically adhered to America’s sanctions and have not taken any action and are unlikely to do anything for the Islamic Republic in the future. So one should give up all hope on Europeans,” Khamenei was quoted as saying.
Erdogan: Iran not to blame
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has backed Iran amid global accusations over drone attacks on two Saudi oil facilities this month.
“Well I don’t think it would be the right thing to blame Iran,” Erdogan said Tuesday in an interview with Fox News.
He recalled the fact that the attacks came from several parts of Yemen.
“If we just place the entire burden on Iran, it won’t be the right way to go. Because the evidence available does not necessarily point to that fact,” said the president.
Regarding US sanctions on the Islamic Republic, Erdogan said there was no point to them.
“We are here today and gone tomorrow. Specifically, we are neighbours with Iran, and I know that sanctions never solved anything,” he said.
Wednesday, September 25
US deploys troops to kingdom
Saudi Arabia’s crown prince received a phone call from the US defence chief about ongoing arrangements to deploy American forces to the kingdom.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Mark Esper that recent attacks on Aramco oil facilities were “a dangerous escalation for the whole world that requires a firm stand to preserve international peace and security”, Saudi state agency SPA reported.
Esper said the United States “will do everything necessary to help the kingdom to defend itself”, it said.
“Iran’s aggressive policy, which destabilises the region, must be curbed,” said Esper.
Rouhani: Saudi must end Yemen attacks
Iran’s president demanded that Saudi Arabia end its devastating war on neighbouring in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia is leading an air campaign aimed at defeating Iran-aligned Houthi rebels who control much of Yemen, contributing to a humanitarian crisis in which thousands of civilians have died and millions are on the brink of starvation.
“The security of Saudi Arabia will be guaranteed with the termination of aggression in Yemen, rather than by inviting foreigners,” he told the UN General Assembly, apparently referring to a planned deployment of US forces to the kingdom.
Iran: ‘A single blunder can fuel a big fire’
Amid rising tensions between Iran and the US, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani warned world leaders the Gulf region is “on the edge of collapse as a single blunder can fuel a big fire”.
“We shall not tolerate the provocative intervention of foreigners. We shall respond decisively and strongly to any sort of transgression to and violation of our security and territorial integrity,” Rouhani told the UN General Assembly.
He also accused the United States of “merciless economic terrorism” and “international piracy”.
Rouhani warned Iran might exit a 2015 nuclear deal if European partners failed to salvage it. “We are committed to the nuclear deal … but Iran’s patience has a limit,” he said.
Saudi Arabia eyes next steps after oil attack
Saudi Arabia is in consultation “with friends and allies about the next steps to take” after an attack on the world’s biggest crude oil processing facility.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir told reporters the kingdom was waiting for the findings of an international probe.
“The United Nations sent people to be part of the investigation, other countries have sent experts to be part of the investigation, so when the team that’s investigating has concluded its investigations we will make the announcements publicly,” Jubeir said.
‘Not looking for trouble’: Iran Revolutionary Guard
Iran had shown self-restraint amid soaring Gulf tensions despite the capabilities of its military, said the chief of its missile programme.
“We are not looking for trouble but we will respond to troublemakers,” General Hossein Salami was quoted by the semi-official Tasnim news agency as saying.
Referring to Iran-backed Houthi rebel attacks on Saudi Arabia, Salami said Iran has improved its military power to the extent that other countries blame it for actions carried out by the rebels themselves.
“The enemy assumes that we are in charge of any sophisticated job,” he said. Without elaborating, he added the Houthis were capable of “changing the entire field of war”.
Iran ready for enhanced nuclear checks if US sanctions lifted
Iran offered to enhance inspections of its nuclear programme if the US Congress ratifies the 2015 nuclear deal and Washington lifts all sanctions.
“Iran’s proposed amendment to the nuclear deal calls for early approval of an additional protocol by Iran’s parliament, nuclear deal approval by US Congress, lifting of all sanctions by Washington,” state-run Press TV said, citing what it described as informed sources.
Iraq will not be field for proxy wars, says leader
Iraqi President Barham Salih said he would not let his country become a battlefield for other countries’ conflicts to play out.
Iraq is squeezed between the two powerful rivals in the region, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Some have questioned whether attacks earlier this month on Saudi Arabian oil installations could have been launched from Iraq. Iraq has denied that.
Salih told the UN General Assembly: “Iraq will not be a launching pad for aggression against any of our neighbouring countries.”
He called the attacks in Saudi Arabia a dangerous development.
Zarif: Possibility of Rouhani and Trump meeting is ‘zero’
The possibility a meeting between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his American counterpart Trump is “zero” and the United States should lift sanctions and return to the 2015 nuclear deal if it wants to talk, Iran’s foreign minister said.
Speaking before a ministerial meeting of the remaining parties to the nuclear deal, Mohammad Javad Zarif said: “Diplomacy is the only way to resolve issues … this meeting gives us an opportunity to review where we are.”
Iran defence minister rejects any deal on missile programme
Iran’s defence minister has rejected any deal with world powers over Tehran’s missile programme.
The official IRNA news agency quoted General Amir Hatami as saying any deal with the US over Iran’s “missile power” would damage the country’s capabilities. He said Iran’s leaders supported improving their missile programme.
Tehran has long insisted its ballistic missile programme was non-negotiable. President Trump, however, cited it as a reason for unilaterally withdrawing the US from the nuclear deal over a year ago.
Iran ready to accept deal changes if US lifts sanctions
Iran is willing to give reassurances on not seeking nuclear arms and will accept changes to its 2015 nuclear accord with world powers if the US returns to the deal and lifts sanctions, a government spokesman said.
“If the sanctions are ended and there is a return to the [nuclear] accord, there is room for giving reassurances towards breaking the deadlock and the President Hassan Rouhani has even a proposal for small changes in the accord,” the spokesman, Ali Rabiei, told state TV.
Macron says conditions in place for Trump-Rouhani talks
French President Emmanuel Macron said conditions were now in place for the US and Iranian leaders at the United Nations, but it remained their decision on whether to move forward.
“I believe that the conditions in this context for a rapid return to negotiations have been created,” Macron told reporters on Tuesday after holding separate meetings with US President Trump and Iranian President Rouhani.
“There is a common intent to progress and to not just find the terms of a de-escalation, but to build a long-term accord,” he said. “But it depends on the will of both sides.”
Pakistan’s Khan mediating with Iran after Trump asked him to help
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was asked by President Trump to help defuse tensions with Iran.
Khan met President Rouhani on the sidelines of the annual gathering of world leaders at the UN headquarters, but did not elaborate on what was discussed.
“I immediately spoke to President Rouhani after meeting with President Trump,” Khan said. “But I can’t say anything right now more than this, except that we are trying and mediating.”
Khan said he had been in Saudi Arabia before New York and spoken with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who also asked him to talk to Rouhani.
Donald Trump and Hassan Rouhani are unlikely to meet at the UN General Assembly in New York [Reuters]
Tuesday, September 24
Saudi considering ‘all options’ in response to strikes
Riyadh will consider all options in its response to an attack on its oil facilities, including a military one, once a probe into who was responsible is completed.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia believed Iran was behind the attacks, but added the United Nations was helping it identify the launch site of missiles and drones.
“We want to mobilise international support and we want to look at all options – diplomatic options, economic options and military options – and then make the decision,” he said.
He added he expected the international investigation into who was responsible for the attack to be completed “fairly soon”.
“We want to avoid war but at the same time we have to signal to the Iranians that ‘your behaviour cannot continue’,” said al-Jubeir.
Pakistan’s Khan mediating with Iran after Trump, MBS request
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said that both the United States and Saudi Arabia asked him to mediate with Iran to defuse tensions.
Khan said he immediately went to speak with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday after Trump made the request.
“I can’t say anything right now more than this, except that we are trying and mediating,” Khan told reporters.
In Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman “also asked me to talk to the Iranian president”, the prime minister said.
Show ‘courage’ for peace, France’s Macron tells US-Iran
Iran and the US must take a leap of faith and show courage to build peace, France’s president said.
Emmanuel Macron urged the arch-foes and key world powers to negotiate to avoid a wider conflict across the Middle East.
“The attacks on Saudi Arabia have changed the situation. Today the risk is [things] flare up because of a miscalculation or a disproportionate response,” Macron said in a speech at the UNGA.
“More than ever, the time has come to restart negotiations between the US, Iran, the parties to the [nuclear deal] and concerned regional powers. It takes courage to build peace.”
Merkel: Cannot see US lifting sanctions for Iran talks
German Chancellor Angela Merkel would welcome talks between the US and Iran, but after speaking to the presidents of both countries she said it was unrealistic to expect Washington to lift sanctions on the Islamic republic first.
“I would welcome it if it came to talks between the United States and Iran but it won’t work that all sanctions are first taken off the table and then there are talks. I think that is not realistic,” Merkel said.
Trump lawyer tells anti-Iran rally ‘regime change’ is the way
President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has told a crowd of several hundred protesters outside the UN he supports regime change in Iran.
“I am speaking in my individual capacity. I am for regime change. Down with the tyrants in Iran. Down with the ayatollah and the mullahs and all the crooks,” he told the crowd, referring to Iran’s clerical leadership.
The rally, organised by opposition groups in exile and The International Convention for the Future of Iran, took place a day before Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivered his remarks before the UNGA.
It is one of several high-profile anti-Iranian government events taking place on the sidelines of the UN gathering this week.
US President Donald Trump reacts to audience applause after his address [Richard Drew/AP]
Iran’s Rouhani: Open to discussing ‘small changes’ to nuclear deal
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said he was open to discuss small changes, additions or amendments to a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers if the United States lifted sanctions imposed on the Islamic republic.
Germany, UK, France blame Iran for Saudi oil attacks
“I will be open to discuss small changes, additions or amendments to the nuclear deal if sanctions were taken away,” Rouhani told media in New York.
US President Donald Trump exited the deal last year and reimposed and toughened sanctions on Iran that were lifted under the pact in return for curbing its nuclear programme.
Macron says he hopes for ‘progress’ on Iran in coming hours
French President Emmanuel Macron said he hoped there could be progress on Iran in the coming hours after he held direct and frank talks with President Hassan Rouhani to try to find common ground.
“We have to get back around the table to have a frank and demanding discussion on the nuclear activity, Iran’s regional activities, the ballistic missile programme, but also to have a larger approach on what sanctions are,” Macron told reporters, without elaborating.
“I hope we will be able to make progress in the coming hours.”
Iran chides European partners for succumbing to US ‘bullying’
Iran blasted Britain, France and Germany for accusing it of responsibility for attacks on Saudi oil facilities.
“The statement showed that the European parties have no strength or willpower to counter US bullying,” foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi was quoted as saying by the semi-official Mehr news agency.
‘Menacing behaviour’: Trump says Iran sanctions will be tightened
US President Trump warned Iran that punishing sanctions will be “tightened” calling the Islamic republic one of the “greatest security threats” to “peace-loving nations”.
“As long as Iran’s menacing behaviour continues, sanctions will not be lifted. They will be tightened,” he said during his UNGA speech.
Trump called Tehran the number one “sponsor of terrorism” and accused the oil-rich nation of working to acquire nuclear weapons.
“The regime is squandering the nation’s wealth and future in a fanatical quest for nuclear weapons and a means to deliver them,” said the president.
Saudi asks world to limit Iran’s ‘aggressive behaviour’
Saudi Arabia called on the international community “to put a limit” on what it described as Iran’s agressive behaviour and “sabotage acts”, the state Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
Analysis: Trump lashes out at China, Iran at UNGA
The world’s top oil exporter has said preliminary indications show Iran was to blame for the September 14 attacks on Saudi oil facilities, rejecting a claim of responsibility by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
SPA quoted Saudi’s King Salman as saying at a cabinet meeting the attack represented a “dangerous escalation”.
Iran: US sanctions blocking equipment to fight pollution
US sanctions were preventing Tehran’s access to equipment it had bought to stop flaring natural gas and fight dangerous pollution at energy plants, Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said.
“We have bought equipment to stop flaring gas but we cannot receive it because of sanctions. I think this is a crime against humanity by [US President Donald] Trump as we are prevented from using equipment against environmental pollution. It is his guilt and responsibility,” Zanganeh told Iran’s state television.
Military official: Attack on Iran will bring ‘captivity and defeat’
Enemies who try to attack Iran will face defeat, a senior Iranian military official said, after the US, Saudi Arabia and European powers accused the Islamic Republic of carrying out an attack on Saudi oil facilities.
“We have repeatedly told the enemy that if there is any violation toward this country, they will face the same action that took place with the American drone and the English tanker,” chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces Major-General Mohammad Baqeri said, according to the Tasnim news agency.
“The result of a violation toward this country will be captivity and defeat.”
Iran does not have any enmity towards Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates and both countries should stand by the Islamic republic to secure the region, Baqeri said.
President Rouhani reviews an honour guard while leaving Tehran for New York City [Iranian Presidency Office via AP]
Monday, September 23
Zarif: No new deal without 2015 nuclear pact compliance
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday ruled out the possibility of negotiating a new deal with major powers, saying that European partners had failed to fulfil their commitments under a 2015 nuclear pact.
“E3’s paralysis in fulfilling their obligations w/o US permission has been clear since May 2018 … No new deal before compliance w/ current one,” Zarif wrote on Twitter.
Rouhani: Iran’s message to the world is ‘peace and stability’
Iran’s message to the world is “peace and stability”, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on his arrival in the United States, where he will attend the UN General Assembly.
“Our message to the world at the UN meeting is peace, stability and also we want to tell the world that the situation in the Persian Gulf is very sensitive,” Rouhani was quoted by the state news agency IRNA as saying.
US vows to intensify pressure on Iran after Saudi oil attacks
The United States will intensify pressure on Iran following the attacks on Saudi oil facilities, US Special Envoy for Iran Brian Hook said.
But he added Washington was seeking a global coalition to counter Tehran and the US was going to act “prudently”.
“It is that Iran has crossed the line by this attack on another country’s sovereignty,” Hook said at an Asia Society event in New York. Hook said the United States was seeking to address the issue through diplomacy and a multilateral effort and there was a role for the United Nations Security Council to play.
Britain, France, Germany blame Iran for Saudi attack
France, Britain and Germany said it was clear Iran was responsible for an attack on Saudi oil facilities and called on Tehran to agree to new negotiations with world powers.
“It is clear for us that Iran bears responsibility for this attack. There is no other explanation,” the three nations’ leaders said in a joint statement.
“The time has come for Iran to accept a long-term negotiation framework for its nuclear programme, as well as regional security issues, which include its missile programmes.”
The statement was issued after French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met during the annual UN gathering of world leaders.
‘Time now to move forward’ – British PM on Iran deal
US says it wants to avoid war with Iran after oil attacks
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged world powers to strike a new nuclear deal with Iran to replace the current one.
“Whatever your objections with the old nuclear deal with Iran, it’s time now to move forward and do a new deal,” Johnson said.
His office clarified Britain still backed the existing nuclear accord signed in 2015 and wanted Iran to halt its non-compliance moves and return.
President Trump, when asked about his British counterpart’s call for a new Iran deal, said: “Boris is a very smart man,” without elaborating further.
Iran blames US for ending negotiations
Iran’s top diplomat said Trump “closed the door to negotiations” with the latest US sanctions imposed, which raised the status of Iran’s central bank to a “global terrorist” institution.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters at the UN: “I know that President Trump did not want to do that,” adding he “must have been misinformed”.
Zarif said President Hassan Rouhani will be proposing a new Hormuz Peace Initiative for the region with two key principles: Non-intervention and non-aggression.
‘We’ll see what happens’, says Trump on meeting Rouhani
US President Donald Trump, arriving at the UN General Assembly, was asked about the possibility of meeting Rouhani amid soaring tensions. “We’ll see what happens,” Trump told reporters.
But Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif suggested a face-to-face was unlikely.
“We haven’t received any requests this time, yet, for a meeting and we have made it clear a request alone will not do the job,” Zarif said. “A negotiation has to be for a reason, for an outcome, not just for a handshake.”
‘Nothing left’ if Iran hit Saudi oil facility: FM Zarif
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said a military attack would have completely knocked out Saudi’s Arabia’s main oil-producing facility, again denying accusations that his country was behind the oil attacks.
The comments came after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was holding Tehran responsible.
“If Iran was behind this attack, nothing would be left of this refinery,” Zarif told reporters in New York ahead of the UN General Assembly.
Zarif also said he had no reason to believe Yemen’s Houthi rebels were lying when they claimed responsibility for the attack on key Saudi oil facilities. He called it a “high-precision, low-impact” assault with no casualties.
US ‘maximum pressure’ campaign has failed: Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said new US sanctions imposed last week blacklisting Iran’s central bank for a second time pointed to US “desperation” in the face of Iranian resistance.
“Americans are sanctioning institutions that have already been blacklisted. This signals America’s complete desperation and shows that its ‘maximum pressure’ has failed … as the great Iranian nation has resisted successfully,” Rouhani said in remarks carried by state television.
“The [Gulf] region has become intense… They make propaganda about [oil] damage [in Saudi Arabia] that can be repaired in two weeks … because America wants to conquer the region.”
Iran to present regional security plan at UNGA: Rouhani
European states split over Saudi attack
Britain and France were at odds over who to blame for an attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, potentially complicating efforts to defuse tensions between the United States and Iran at the UN General Assembly.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeared to break ranks with his European counterparts by directly blaming Iran for the attack on Saudi Arabia.
However, French officials have been extremely cautious not to point the finger specifically at Tehran, fearing it could increase tensions.
“One must be very careful in attributing responsibility,” French President Emmanuel Macron told Le Monde newspaper while en route to New York.
Iran calls on UK to stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia
Iran is criticising British Prime Minister Boris Johnson after he said Britain has concluded Iran was responsible for attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry.
Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency quoted Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi condemning “fruitless efforts against the Islamic Republic of Iran”.
Mousavi said “the British government should stop selling lethal weapons to Saudi Arabia” over its war in Yemen.
China’s Xi: Gulf disputes should be resolved peacefully
Disputes in the Gulf should be resolved peacefully via talks, and all sides should remain calm and exercise restraint, Chinese President Xi Jinping told Iraq’s visiting prime minister, state television reported.
“At present, the situation in the Gulf region of the Middle East is complex and sensitive,” the report cited Xi as saying, without directly mentioning the Saudi attacks.
Europe petrol exports to Middle East surge after attacks
Petrol exports from Europe to the Middle East and Asia are set to surge this week after the attacks on the oil facilities.
More than 400,000 tonnes of petrol and petrol blending components have been booked in the past week for loading between September 21 and 26 out of northwest Europe with Middle East Gulf delivery options, shipping data showed.
The flow is the equivalent of about 500,000 barrels per day.
It is unclear where the cargoes will end up, but traders said that Aramco was seeking to buy large volumes of refined oil products.
Oil falls below $64 on Saudi oil restart prospects
Oil fell below $64 a barrel, reversing an earlier gain, pressured by the prospect of a faster-than-expected full restart of Saudi Arabian oil output and by fresh signs of European economic weakness.
A source, briefed on the latest developments in the September 14 attack on Saudi oil facilities, told Reuters news agency that Saudi Arabia had restored about 75 percent of crude output lost.
Global benchmark Brent crude fell 30 cents to $63.98 a barrel at 10:45 GMT, having earlier risen as high as $65.50.
Macron: Attacks don’t help prospects for US-Iran summit
The attack on the Aramco facilities did not help diplomatic efforts to organise talks between US President Donald Trump and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani, French President Emmanuel Macron told Le Monde newspaper.
Macron was cited saying that caution was needed in attributing blame for the attack, which shook global oil markets.
With both Trump and Rouhani in New York at the same time, Macron said there was an opportunity for a discussion to take place, but acknowledged that “the chances of a meeting had certainly not increased”.
Amanpour: Zarif says Rouhani willing to meet Trump
CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour quoted Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif as saying that President Hassan Rouhani was willing to meet US President Donald Trump in New York this week if sanctions were scrapped in exchange for “permanent monitoring” of Iran’s nuclear activities.
In another tweet, Amanpour quoted Zarif saying: “The olive branch has always been on the table, but we’re showing it again.”
There has been no statement from Zarif himself about what Amanpour attributed to him.
Rouhani: Iran to offer its own rival security coalition in Gulf
Iran’s president said his country will offer its own rival security coalition in the Gulf.
Rouhani said Iran would invite “all littoral states of the Persian Gulf” to join its coalition “to guarantee the region’s security”.
He said the initiative was not limited to “security” but also encompassed economic cooperation and would be presented in detail at the UN.
UK says Iran responsible for attack on Saudi oil facilities
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain had concluded Iran was responsible for the attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, and Britain would consider taking part in a US-led military effort to bolster the Gulf kingdom’s defences.
But Johnson also said his country would work with allies to “de-escalate” Middle East tensions.
The Conservative prime minister told reporters flying with him on Sunday to New York for the UN General Assembly that Britain “is attributing responsibility with a very high degree of probability to Iran” for the September 14 attack by drones and cruise missiles.
Journalists film what Saudi Arabia says is evidence of Iranian weaponry used in the attack [Amr Nabil/AP]
Sunday, September 22
Pompeo says US wishes to avoid war with Iran
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the US aims to avoid war with Iran, adding that the order to deploy troops in the Gulf region is for “deterrence and defence”.
“Our mission set is to avoid war,” Pompeo told Fox News. “You saw what [defence] Secretary Esper announced on Friday, we are putting additional forces in the region for the purpose of deterrence and defence.
“If that deterrence should continue to fail, I am also confidant that President Trump would continue to take the actions that are necessary,” he added.
What’s next for Saudi Aramco and world oil markets?
Al Jazeera’s current affairs programme Counting the Cost discusses why Saudi Arabia’s billion-dollar defences failed to protect its oil facilities and how it affects oil prices.
Navy commander says Iran ready to defend marine borders
The head of Iran’s navy said the Islamic republic was ready to defend its marine borders and would deliver a “crushing reaction” to any aggression.
“In case of any miscalculation and aggression by the enemy, [the navy], along with other armed forces of the country, will give the most crushing reaction in the shortest time possible,” Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi was cited as saying by the semi-official Mehr news agency.
“Today, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s defence power is at its highest possible level and forces of army and [Revolutionary Guards] are ready to defend marine borders of the country.”
‘Entirely implausible’ to say Houthis behind Saudi attack: UK
Dominic Raab, the British foreign secretary, said it was implausible that attacks on Saudi oil facilities were conducted by Yemen’s Houthi movement, adding that Riyadh had the right to defend itself against any further strikes.
“I find it, from the information I have seen, I find it entirely implausible and lacking in credibility to suggest that those attacks came from Houthi rebels,” Raab told the BBC, but he declined to say to whom Britain attributed the attacks.
“Before we attribute responsibility I want to be absolutely crystal clear, because that will mean the action that we take can be as robust and as widely supported as possible.”
Iran to present regional security plan at UNGA: Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country would present a regional cooperation plan to create security in the Gulf when he attends the United Nations General Assembly this week.
In a televised speech marking the anniversary of the start of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, Rouhani said Iran extended its “hand of friendship and brotherhood” towards countries in the region willing to cooperate in the Tehran-led effort to oversee security in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, a vital gateway for the global oil industry.
But in response to a recent decision by the US to send more troops to the area, Rouhani went on to warn against the presence of foreign forces in the Gulf.
“Foreign forces can cause problems and insecurity for our people and for our region,” Rouhani said.
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said Riyadh would take the appropriate steps if its investigation confirmed that Iran was responsible for the attacks.
“The kingdom will take the appropriate measures based on the results of the investigation, to ensure its security and stability,” al-Jubeir told a news conference, declining to speculate about specific actions.
“We are certain that the launch did not come from Yemen, it came from the north. The investigations will prove that.”
Iran threatens to make any aggressor ‘main battlefield’
The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards warned that any country that attacks the Islamic republic will see its territory turn into the conflict’s “main battlefield”.
“Whoever wants their land to become the main battlefield, go ahead,” Guards commander Hossein Salami told a news conference in Tehran. “We will never allow any war to encroach upon Iran’s territory.”
“Be careful, a limited aggression will not remain limited. We are after punishment and we will continue until the full destruction of any aggressor,” he said.
Zarif: Saudi and UAE want to ‘fight Iran to the last American’ (2:04)
CEO: Saudi Aramco ‘stronger than ever’
Saudi Aramco has emerged from the September 14 attacks on its oil facilities “stronger than ever”, Chief Executive Officer Amin Nasser told employees in a message.
“The fires that were intended to destroy Saudi Aramco had an unintended consequence: they galvanised 70,000 of us around a mission to rebound quickly and confidently, and Saudi Aramco has come out of this incident stronger than ever,” said the message.
The Pentagon said the United States will deploy additional troops and military equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to beef up security, as Trump decided, at least for now, against any immediate military attacks in response to those on the Saudi oil industry.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said this was just the first step, and he did not rule out additional moves down the road. He said the deployment was a response to requests from the Saudis and the UAE to help improve their air and missile defences.
An official with the Houthis said the rebel group will stop aiming missile and drone attacks at Saudi Arabia, warning that a continuation of the war could lead to “dangerous developments”.
“We declare ceasing to target the Saudi Arabian territory with military drones, ballistic missiles and all other forms of weapons, and we wait for a reciprocal move from them,” Mahdi al-Mashat, head of the Houthis’ supreme political council said on Al Masirah TV.
“We reserve the right to respond if they fail to reciprocate positively to this initiative,” he said, adding that the continuation of the Yemen war “will not benefit any side”.
Hezbollah threatens Saudi Arabia, demands end to Yemen war
The leader of the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah has called on Saudi Arabia to stop its war in Yemen, or else it will face more attacks on its soil.
In a televised speech, Hassan Nasrallah warned Saudi Arabia and the UAE not to incite war “because your houses are made of glass”.
Nasrallah said one attack on Saudi Arabia knocked out half of the country’s oil production, so “what will another strike do?”.
He said buying more air defences from the US would not help the kingdom defend itself, and added that Yemen’s Houthi rebels had sophisticated missiles and drones.
Saudi Arabia “should think well, as a war with Iran will mean their destruction,” he added.
Iran’s Zarif says Saudi, UAE want to ‘fight Iran to the last American’
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that US-allied Saudi Arabia and the UAE seem to wish to “fight Iran to the last American”.
Zarif was responding to a statement a day earlier by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a visit to Abu Dhabi saying that: “While the foreign minister of Iran is threatening all-out war and to fight to the last American, we’re here to build up a coalition aimed at achieving peace.”
Zarif tweeted on Friday: “@SecPompeo has it the other way around: It’s not #Iran that wishes to fight to the last American; rather, it is his #B_Team hosts who seem to wish to fight Iran to the last American.”
Zarif has in the past said that a so-called “B-team” including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and Abu Dhabi’s crown prince could goad the US president into conflict with Tehran.
Aramco says full output from Khurais site to resume by end of September
Saudi Aramco is confident full production will resume by the end of September from Khurais, one of two oil sites attacked a week ago, a company executive said.
Aramco was shipping equipment from the US and Europe to rebuild the damaged facilities, Fahad Abdulkarim, Aramco’s general manager for the southern area oil operation, told reporters on a tour organised by the state company.
Reuters reporters were shown repair work under way, with cranes erected around two burnt-out stabilisation columns, which form part of oil-gas separation units, and melted pipes.
“We are working 24/7,” Abdulkarim said.
Yemen rebels accuse Saudi, allies of ‘serious escalation’ in Hodeidah
Yemen’s Houthi rebels accused Saudi Arabia and its allies of endangering a fragile truce around Hodeidah with strikes on four rebel targets north of the key aid port.
“The intensive raids on Hodeidah are a serious escalation that could torpedo the Sweden agreement,” one of the rebels’ leaders, Mohammed Abdulsalam, said, referring to the UN-supervised truce agreed outside Stockholm in December.
Thursday’s strikes were the first reported against the Iran-backed rebels since they claimed a twin attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry last weekend that Washington and Riyadh have blamed on Tehran.
“The [Saudi-led] coalition will be responsible for the consequences of this escalation and we’ll be watching the UN stance on this situation closely,” Abdessalem added, in comments reported by the rebels’ Al Masirah television.
The coalition destroyed four sites outside Hodeidah used by the rebels to assemble remote control vessels and marine mines, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.
Thursday, September 19
Imran Khan says Pakistan fully supports Saudi Arabia
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said his country fully supports the kingdom following the last week’s attack.
Khan made the comments during a visit to Saudi Arabia, where he met Saudi’s MBS.
The prime minister added he strongly condemned the attack on the Saudi oil facilities, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
Russia calls for talks to defuse tensions
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday urged all countries in the Gulf to sit down for talks to defuse tensions following an attack on Saudi oil infrastructure, Russian news agency Interfax reported.
Speaking in Moscow, Lavrov called for measures to be put in place to stop a similar situation happening in the region again and said that groundless accusations against Iran over the attacks were inflaming tensions.
Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif warns of ‘all-out war’
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the result of any US or Saudi military attack against his country would result in an “all-out war”.
“I am making a very serious statement that we don’t want war; we don’t want to engage in a military confrontation … But we won’t blink to defend our territory,” Zarif told CNN.
Yemen rebel claim over Saudi oil attacks ‘lacks credibility’: France
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that a claim by Yemeni rebels to have carried out attacks on two Saudi oil facilities “lacks credibility”.
“The Houthis, who are Yemeni rebels, announced that it was they who provoked this attack, which lacks credibility,” Le Drian told France’s CNews channel referring to the missile and drone attacks, which the US and Riyadh have blamed on Saudi’s arch-foe Iran.
“But given that there is an international investigation let’s wait for the results,” he added.
Le Drian linked the timing of the attacks to next week’s UN General Assembly in New York, where a meeting President Donald Trump and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani had been mooted.
“We need now to return to the principle of de-escalation,” he said.
Saudi envoy to Germany says all options on the table against Iran
Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said Iran is ‘certainly’ behind Saudi oil plant attacks [File: Alexander Becher/ EPA]
The Saudi ambassador to Germany said all options were on the table in retaliation to attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities that the kingdom has blamed on Iran.
Asked about the possibility of a military strike against Iran, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said: “Of course everything is on the table but you have to discuss that well.”
“We’re still working on where they were launched from but wherever they came from, Iran is certainly behind them as Iran built them and they could only be launched with Iranian help,” he told Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio.
UAE joins US-led coalition to protect Middle East waterways
The UAE says it has joined a US-led coalition to protect waterways across the Middle East after an attack on Saudi oil installations.
The state-run WAM news agency quoted Salem al-Zaabi of the Emirati Foreign Ministry as saying the UAE joined the coalition to “ensure global energy security and the continued flow of energy supplies to the global economy.”
Saudi Arabia joined the coalition on Wednesday. Australia, Bahrain and the United Kingdom also are taking part.
The US formed the coalition after attacks on oil tankers that US officials blame on Iran, as well as Iran’s seizure of tankers in the region. Iran denies being behind the tanker explosions.
Wednesday, September 18
Kuwait army prepares as regional tensions soar
Kuwait’s army said it was raising its readiness levels and carrying out military exercises amid soaring regional tensions.
Kuwait also said it was investigating accounts that a drone intruded into its airspace and flew over the royal palace on Saturday, the same day two Saudi oil facilities were attacked.
The army was aiming to reach the “highest levels of readiness and combat efficiency” in order to “preserve the security of the country and the safety of its lands, waters and airspace from any potential dangers”.
Kuwait’s government has already beefed up security measures around vital installations in the country.
Kuwait’s Al-Rai newspaper reported at dawn on Saturday, an unmanned drone about the size of a small car came down to a height of about 250 metres over the palace, before turning on its lights and flying away.
It said the drone continued flew over the seaside residential palace of Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, who is undertaking medical tests in the US.
Pompeo: Saudi oil attacks an ‘act of war’
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure as an “act of war”, as he arrived in the kingdom.
“This was an Iranian attack,” Pompeo told reporters on his plane before landing in the western city of Jeddah, calling it “an act of war”.
Pompeo met Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) and is scheduled to travel to neighbouring UAE next.
Pompeo takes part in a meeting with MBS in Jeddah [Mandel Ngan/Reuters]
Trump said he has “many options” in addition to military attacks against Iran and that details of newly announced sanctions would come within 48 hours.
Asked by reporters in Los Angeles about a possible US attack on Iran, Trump said “there are many options. There’s the ultimate option and there are options a lot less than that.”
He explained that by “ultimate option” he meant “war.”
UN sends experts to probe Saudi attacks
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said UN experts have already left for Saudi Arabia to investigate attacks on key Saudi oil installations.
Guterres told reporters the experts were sent under the UN Security Council resolution that endorsed the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers.
It requires the secretary-general to report every six months on the implementation of the nuclear agreement, which includes restrictions on arms-related transfers to and from Iran.
US, UK agree on ‘unified response’ to Aramco attacks
The US and UK agreed on a “unified response” to last Saturday’s attacks on the Aramco oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, a British government statement said.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Trump “condemned the attacks and discussed the need for a united diplomatic response from international partners,” in a phone conversation, it said.
Zarif: US escalating economic war on Iranians
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused Trump of escalating economic pressure on ordinary Iranians by ordering a major increase in sanctions on the country.
“Escalating US economic war on Iranians, @realDonaldTrump ordered SoT “to substantially increase sanctions against the country of Iran!” Zarif said on Twitter.
“It’s admission that US is deliberately targeting ordinary citizens….Stop war and terror.”
Saudi Arabia ‘knows nothing’, says Iranian official
Saudi Arabia proved that “it knows nothing”, an adviser to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said, after the kingdom displayed evidence it said proved the assault on its oil sites was “unquestionably sponsored” by Tehran.
“The press conference proved that Saudi Arabia knows nothing about where the missiles and drones were made or launched from and failed to explain why the country’s defence system failed to intercept them,” Hesameddin Ashena wrote on Twitter.
Yemen’s Houthis threaten to attack UAE targets
Yemen’s Houthi rebels threatened to attack the UAE, days after they claimed attacks on key oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.
Yahia Sarie, a spokesperson for the Houthi forces, told a press conference they have “dozens of targets” in the UAE that “could be targeted at any time.”
He also added the Houthis have new drones, powered by “normal and jet engines” that can reach targets deep in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi: Oil attacks unquestionably sponsored by Iran
Saudi Arabia’s defence ministry said the weekend attacks on the kingdom’s oil facilities came from the north and were “unquestionably sponsored by Iran”.
At a press conference in the capital, Riyadh, to reveal the military’s findings, Saudi defence ministry spokesperson Col. Turki al-Malki said Iranian cruise missiles and drones were used.
“The attack was systematically and intentionally planned to destroy civilian infrastructure,” he said.
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The US mission to the UAE said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah to discuss the attack and coordinate efforts against “Iranian aggression”.
Pompeo will then travel to the UAE capital Abu Dhabi to meet with its crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, and discuss regional and bilateral issues, it added.
Zarif rejects US accusations as ‘distraction’
Iran dismissed US accusations over weekend attacks of Saudi Arabia’s oil sites as a distraction from the realities in the Middle East, the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) quoted Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying on Wednesday.
“The US should seek to look at the realities in the region, rather than simply using distractions. We feel that the US government is trying to somehow forget the realities in the region,” Zarif said.
Zarif said the US was trying to forget realities in the Middle East [File: Evgenia Novozhenina/ Reuters]
Iran to US: Response to any attack ‘won’t be limited to its source’
Tehran’s retaliation to any military attack will not be “limited to its source”, Tehran said, in an official note to Washington, according to Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency.
“In an official note to the US via Swiss embassy, Iran has reiterated that it was not behind attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities and it has warned that any move by America against Iran will get immediate reaction,” ISNA reported.
MBS: Attack on Saudi a ‘real test of global will’
Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, said the weekend attack posed a “real test of the global will” to confront subversive acts that threaten international stability, state media reported.
His comments were made in a telephone conversation with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who called on the global community to “take a firm stand and resolute action” towards such assaults, according to the Saudi Press Agency.
Ahead of UNGA, US ‘yet to issue visas’ for Rouhani, Zarif
Saudi oil attacks: UN Security Council holds back on blaming Iran
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif may not go to the United Nations General Assembly next week as the US has yet to issue them visas, according to state media.
IRNA’s report said Iran’s first delegation for the annual event in New York had not left the country due to not having visas.
It said Zarif was to travel there on Friday, with Rouhani following behind on Monday.
The report came as the UN meeting had been floated as the possible site of a direct meeting between US President Donald Trump and Rouhani.
US citizens warned over travelling to Saudi
The US State Department issued a travel advisory calling on US citizens to “exercise increased caution” while travelling to Saudi Arabia.
The note posted on the State Department’s website said US Mission personnel and their families were not permitted to use Abha airport without approval.
The airport has been frequently attacked by drones and missiles launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
Defence minister denies Iran played any role in attack
Iran’s defence minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami said Tehran had no involvement in the attacks on the Aramco oil installations, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency.
“Rejecting comments about Iran’s role in the operation, [Hatami] said the issue is very clear: There has been a conflict between two countries [Yemen and Saudi Arabia].” Tasnim said.
Saudi oil attacks: Iran denies links to drone strikes
Saudi promises ‘material evidence’ linking Iran to attack
The Saudi defence ministry said it will hold a news conference at 14:30 GMT to present “material evidence and Iranian weapons proving the Iranian regime’s involvement in the terrorist attack”.
Riyadh previously said preliminary results showed the attack did not come from Yemen.
Rouhani: Houthi attacks ‘warning’ to end Yemen war
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told a cabinet meeting that the Houthis attacked the Saudi oil facilities as a “warning” for Riyadh to end its long-running war in Yemen.
In a video released by state TV, Rouhani did not address US and Saudi allegations that Iran was behind the drone assaults, but blamed the two countries for the conflict in the Arab world’s most impoverished country.
“We don’t want conflict in the region … Who started the conflict? Not the Yemenis. It was Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, America, certain European countries and the Zionist regime [Israel] which started the war in this region,” Rouhani said in the video.
Japan not aware of any Iranian involvement
Japan’s new defence minister said his country has not seen any intelligence showing Iranian involvement in the attacks on the Saudi oil facilities.
“We are not aware of any information that points to Iran,” Defence Minister Taro Kono told reporters at a briefing. “We believe the Houthis carried out the attack based on the statement claiming responsibility.”
Japan has maintained cordial ties with Iran even as relations between Tehran and Washington have deteriorated. Kono earlier said Japan cannot participate in any military retaliation because of constitutional restraints and would instead pursue a diplomatic solution to the current crisis.
France to send experts to probe attacks
President Emmanuel Macron said France, in response to a Saudi request, will send experts to probe the drone attacks on the Saudi Aramco facilities
In a statement, the Elysee Palace said the president strongly condemned the attack and assured Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that France was committed to stability in the Middle East.
“In response to a Saudi request, President Macron confirmed to the crown prince that France will send experts to Saudi Arabia to take part in investigations aimed at revealing the origin and modalities of the attacks,” it added.
The US formed the coalition after attacks on oil tankers [Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class M. J. Lieberknecht/ US Navy via AP]
Saudi Arabia to join US-led maritime coalition
Saudi Arabia said it would join a US-led coalition to secure the Middle East’s waterways after the attack on its oil fields.
The state-run Saudi Press Agency carried a statement quoting an unnamed official saying that the kingdom had joined the International Maritime Security Construct, a mission already joined by Australia, Bahrain and the United Kingdom.
Washington formed the coalition after attacks on oil tankers that US officials blame on Iran over Iranian denials, as well as Tehran’s seizure of tankers operating in the region.
Oil prices drop as Riyadh says production will be restored
Oil prices extended their losses, after Saudi Arabia‘s energy minister said the kingdom will restore lost oil production by the end of the month.
But investors remained cautious about potential tension in the Middle East following the attacks.
Brent crude oil futures fell 36 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $64.19 a barrel by 00:05 GMT, after tumbling 6.5 percent the previous session.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 43 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $58.91 a barrel, after sinking by 5.7 percent on Tuesday.
Tuesday, September 17
Pence says ‘US is prepared, locked and loaded’
US Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday commented on Saturday’s attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities by saying the US is “ready to defend our interests & 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. The US is prepared, we’re locked and loaded,” Pence said on Twitter following a talk at the Heritage foundation.
“Make no mistake about it,” he added.
Pence also spoke to Chuck Schumer, according to the Democratic Senator and Senate minority leader.
Pence told Schumer that Secretary of State Pompeo is going to Saudi Arabia and senators will receive a classified briefing tomorrow or Thursday on the situation.
“Any kind of significant action should get the ok of Congress,” Schumer said. “My worry here is that they will bumble into war, even if they don’t want one. They will bumble into it because they haven’t had a strategy.”
Saudi Arabia: Supply levels back to levels from before attack
The Saudi Arabian Energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said on Tuesday evening the country’s oil supply levels are back at the levels they were at before the Saturday attack on some of its production facilities.
He added that the country’s oil market will be fully back online at the end of September.
Bin Salman also called on the international community to “take strong action against the attack on the global economy and energy markets”, both he also said he “did not know” who was behind the attack, AFP news agency said.
Iran’s Zarif: US ‘in denial’ over Saudi attack
Iran’s foreign minister said in a tweet the US was in denial for suspecting Iran over attacks on Saudi oil facilities, and ignoring that Yemenis were fighting back after years of war against the kingdom.
“US is in denial if it thinks that Yemeni victims of 4.5 yrs of the worst war crimes wouldn’t do all to strike back.
“Perhaps it’s embarrassed that $100s of blns of its arms didn’t intercept Yemeni fire,” Mohammad Javad Zarif said. “But blaming Iran won’t change that.”
UK, Germany urge ‘collective response’ to Saudi attacks
Britain and Germany on Tuesday urged the international community to forge a “collective response” to the drone attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil installations, which US officials have blamed on Iran.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the attacks during a telephone call, agreeing on “the need to work together, alongside international partners, to agree a collective response,” according to Downing Street.
Johnson and Merkel stressed the “importance of avoiding the further escalation of tensions in the region”.
Saudi clerics ordered to ‘bless security’ after attacks
Saudi Arabia instructed clerics across the country to focus their upcoming Friday sermons on the recent attacks that struck key oil installations in the kingdom’s east.
The Islamic Affairs Ministry said the sermons should “emphasise the blessing of security and stability that God has bestowed upon the kingdom of Saudi Arabia”, and the “need to rally around its wise leadership”, as well as to ask for God’s protection of the country and to respond to enemies where they are.
The ministry said its efforts are aimed at raising awareness about the dangers facing Saudi Arabia and the importance of supporting its rulers.
The ministry’s instructions were published by the state-run Saudi Press Agency.
Pompeo headed to Saudi Arabia
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday amid increased tensions in the Gulf region following the attacks on the Saudi oil installations.
“The secretary of state is traveling to Saudi Arabia today to discuss our response,” Pence said during a speech at the Heritage Foundation.
However, France said it had not seen any proof that would lead it to conclude the attack was launched by or from Iran.
French FM: ‘No proof to say where drones came from’
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters in Cairo on Tuesday his country had seen no evidence yet proving the country of origin of the drones that attacked Saudi oil installations on Saturday.
“Up to now, France does not have any proof that would allow us to say where the drones came from,” Le Drian said.
Le Drian added in a news conference alongside his Egyptian counterpart “there must be a strategy of de-escalation” and supported Saudi proposals to involve the United Nations in the investigation.
US officials claim attack came from Iran: reports
USofficials said the attack on the oil installations came from Iran, both AFP and Reuters news agencies.
According to the officials, who did not want to be named, the exact location from where the attack was launched was identified to be somewhere in southwest Iran, adding that both cruise missiles and drones were used in the attack.
The official said the US was gathering evidence about the attack to present to the international community, notably European allies, at the UN General Assembly next week.
Saudi Aramco to meet oil commitment to Asian refiners: report
This is the first indication that its supply to top consumers in Asia – who consume more than 70 percent of total Saudi crude oil – will remain stable.
However, at least one refiner has been told of a partial change in the grade of crude it will receive.
Three state-owned refineries in India – Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd will receive full allocated volumes of Saudi crude oil in October, three industry sources told the Reuters news agency.
But Aramco has informed India’s top refiner, IOC, that it would give some volumes of Arabian Heavy instead of Arabian mix oil, said one of the sources, who declined to be identified as he was not authorised to speak to media.
Two refiners, in China and Taiwan, also said Saudi Aramco had told them that there was no change to the loading schedule in September and October.
The attack on Saudi oil facilities will not affect Aramco’s public listing plans, the world’s biggest oil company said.
Despite the fact it could take months for Aramco to restore its output after Saturday’s attacks, the company is continuing to prepare for a local initial public offering (IPO), which the sources said may happen as early as November.
The state-owned oil group will meet local Saudi banks to discuss the IPO plans, but bankers at international lenders working on the IPO told Reuters there had been no communication from Aramco’s management on any delay.
The Aramco IPO is a pillar of an ambitious economic diversification drive by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), who has put the firm’s valuation at $2 trillion. The domestic flotation is the first step of a targeted five percent sale.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s top crude exporter, recently accelerated plans for the IPO, naming a new chairman for Aramco and mandating nine banks in top roles.
Kuwait calls on armed forces to be on high alert
Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid Al Sabah called on the country’s armed forces to be on high alert following the recent increase in tensions in the Gulf region, state news agency KUNA reported.
He also said the armed forces should be prepared to confront any incident that may destabilize the country’s security.
Kuwait stands behind Saudi Arabia following Saturday’s attacks on Aramco oil facilities, the foreign minister added.
Saudi king says Riyadh is capable of responding to attacks
Saudi King Salman said that Riyadh was capable of dealing with the consequences of attacks on its installations.
A statement issued after a meeting of Saudi Arabia’s council of ministers said the cabinet had reviewed the damage caused by the attacks on the Aramco installations, and it called on the world’s governments to confront them “regardless of their origin”.
In the statement, the council said the “cowardly” strikes on its oil facilities were an extension of “repeated attacks” on vital installations. “[The attack] has threatened freedom of shipping, and has affected the stability of the global economic growth,” the statement said, as reported by state media.
Merkel urges return to Iran nuclear deal to defuse tensions
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for a return to the 2015 international deal curbing Iran’s nuclear activities as the only way to defuse tensions in the Middle East.
“We believe that the deal to stop Iran from acquiring military nuclear capabilities is a building block we need to get back to,” Merkel said, during a news conference with Jordan’s King Abdullah.
“But there is also a long list of other burdens coming from Iran like the ballistic missiles programme and its engagement in Syria,” she said. “In recent days tensions in the region rose and Germany will always be in favour of de-escalation and long-term solutions are only possible through a political process.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke at a joint news conference with Jordan’s King Abdullah in Berlin [Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters]
NATO following aftermath of Saudi oil attacks ‘with concern’
NATO is keeping a close eye on developments in the wake of Saturday’s drone attacks, its head said.
“Any disruption to global energy supplies is clearly of concern to NATO Allies. We are monitoring developments carefully and with concern,” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told Anadolu Agency.
Stoltenberg urged all parties to prevent further such incidents, which he said pose a “serious threat” to regional security.
Trump says he would ‘certainly like to avoid’ war with Iran (2:18)
Aramco oil deliveries to China ‘will be delayed’
Saudi Aramco informed PetroChina that some of its loadings of light crude oil for next month will be delayed by up to 10 days, according to a senior Chinese state oil source with knowledge of the matter.
However, Saudi Arabia’s state oil company will still supply the same grades and volumes of light crude oil requested for October nominations, the source told Reuters news agency.
The Chinese state refiner was also told that some of its September-loading light crude cargoes will be swapped to heavier grades with no change in volumes or delays, the source said.
“The (loading dates and volumes of) September cargoes are too prompt to be changed, as Aramco may be still assessing the damages to its facilities.”
Russia: No request to mediate between Saudi and Iran
The Kremlin said it had not received a formal request from any party for Moscow to act as a mediator between Saudi Arabia and Iran following the attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure.
Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow had not received any new information about the attack that could help it draw any final conclusions.
“We do not favour any kind of hurried accusations or conclusions about who is responsible for this attack,” Peskov said.
Iran leader rules out negotiations with the US
Iran will not hold talks with the US and Washington’s policy of maximum pressure on Tehran will fail, the country’s Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei said.
“The policy of ‘maximum pressure’ against Iran is worthless,” state TV quoted Khamenei as saying.
“All Iranian officials unanimously believe there will be no negotiations with the US at any level,” he said.
Khamenei added that if Washington changes its behaviour and returns to Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal, “then it can join multilateral talks between Iran and other parties to the deal”.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei says his country will not engage in talks with the US [File: EPA]
Japan’s Abe to meet Rouhani at UNGA
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Tuesday he would meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the end of the month, public broadcaster NHK said.
During a meeting with members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Abe repeated his intention of speaking with Rouhani on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, according to the NHK.
Abe added that he would travel to Belgium after the UNGA session and meet with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the NHK added.
Saudi Arabia invites global experts to investigate attack
Riyadh said its initial investigations indicated that Iranian weapons were used in the attacks on its key oil installations and said it would “invite United Nations and international experts to view the situation on the ground and to participate in the investigations”.
“The kingdom will take the appropriate measures based on the results of the investigation, to ensure its security and stability,” a statement from the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
Saudi Arabia “affirms that it has the capability and resolve to defend its land and people, and to forcefully respond to these aggressions,” the statement added, calling the attack “an unprecedented act of aggression and sabotage” and an “egregious crime which threatens international peace and security”.
Price of oil jumps nearly 15 percent
Oil prices ended nearly 15 percent higher on Monday, with Brent crude logging its biggest jump in more than 30 years amid record trading volumes.
Brent crude futures settled at $69.02 a barrel, rising $8.80, or 14.6 percent – its largest one-day percentage gain since at least 1988.
In the US, West Texas Intermediate futures ended at $62.90 a barrel, soaring $8.05, or 14.7 percent – the biggest one-day percentage gain since December 2008.
Monday, September 16
Trump says ‘looks like’ Iran responsible for Saudi attacks
Trump said it’s “looking like” Iran was responsible for the attacks on key oil installations in Saudi Arabia, but he said he did not want war.
Trump said at the White House that the US was not looking at retaliatory options until he had “definitive proof” that Iran was responsible.
Still, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that the US “is prepared” if the attacks warranted a response.
Putin proposes Russian missile defence for Saudi Arabia
Russia is ready to help Saudi Arabia following attacks on the Saudi oil industry if needed, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, after talks with the leaders of Turkey and Iran in Ankara. Putin also proposed Russian weapons for purchase.
“We are ready to provide respective assistance to Saudi Arabia, and it would be enough for the political leadership of Saudi Arabia to make a wise government decision – as the leaders of Iran did in their time by purchasing S-300 and as [Turkish] President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan did by purchasing the latest S-400 Triumph air defence systems from Russia,” Putin said.
These Russian weapons would protect any infrastructure facilities in Saudi Arabia, he added.
Attack on Saudi ‘unprecedented’, says Pentagon chief
US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said the recent attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities was “unprecedented” and the US, along with its allies, was working to defend the “international rules-based order that is being undermined by Iran”.
In a series of Tweets, Esper said he spoke with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and the Iraqi Minister of Defence Najah al-Shammari, over the weekend
Rouhani: Saudi attacks a reciprocal response by Yemen
An attack on Saudi Arabia’s Aramco oil facilities was a reciprocal measure by “Yemeni people” to assaults on their country, said Iranian President Rouhani, hours after a Saudi-led coalition said the attacks were carried out with Iranian weapons.
“Yemeni people are exercising their legitimate right of defence … the attacks were a reciprocal response to aggression against Yemen for years,” Rouhani told a joint news conference with his Russian and Turkish counterparts.
Will the attacks on Saudi oil facilities cripple global supplies?
Saudi Arabia has tried to reassure the world that it will quickly recover from Saturday’s attacks on its oil plants.
However, the reassurance failed to stop oil prices soaring 19 percent – their highest-ever increase in a day.
Will the attack force us to rethink our reliance on oil?
India has condemned the attack on key Saudi oil installations over the weekend as an “act of terrorism”.
Raveesh Kumar, India’s foreign ministry spokesman, expressed India’s resolve to “oppose terrorism in all its forms and manifestations” in a short statement.
Saudi Arabia is India’s second-largest oil supplier after Iraq.
Israel ‘prepared’ for spillover from Saudi oil attacks
Israel is prepared for the possibility it might be drawn into any US-Iranian confrontation over the attacks on two Saudi oil plants, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
“I am taking care of our security on a 360-degree basis, and I can tell you that we are well prepared,” Netanyahu told Army Radio when asked whether Iran might try to provoke Israel.
Analysis: Saudi attacks a ‘game-changer’ in US-Iran ties
The attacks on Saudi oil facilities are a “game-changer” in US-Iran relations, according to Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst Marwan Bishara.
“The US cannot allow this incident to set a precedent, where more incidents like this happen in the future,” he said from London.
“As far as the US is concerned, the responsibility lies with Tehran, and they are going to have to do something – whether its war or serious diplomacy – it remains to be seen.”
Oman calls Saudi oil attack ‘pointless escalation’
Oman expressed regret for the weekend attack on Saudi Aramco’s oil facilities, with a tweet by the foreign ministry calling it a “pointless escalation”.
The sultanate urged the UN special envoy to Yemen to bring together for peace talks the warring parties in the Yemen conflict, and expressed Oman’s readiness to help achieve peace.
Saudi-led coalition: Iranian arms used in oil attacks
The Saudi-led military coalition battling Yemen’s Houthi movement said the attack on Saudi Arabian oil plants was carried out with Iranian weapons and was not launched from Yemen, according to preliminary findings.
Coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki said that an investigation into Saturday’s attacks was still ongoing to determine the launch location.
“The preliminary results show that the weapons are Iranian and we are currently working to determine the location … The terrorist attack did not originate from Yemen as the Houthi militia claimed,” Malki told a news conference in Riyadh.
UN envoy: ‘Not clear’ who is behind Saudi oil attack
UN special envoy to Yemen told the UN Security Council it was “not entirely clear” who was behind Saturday’s attack on Saudi oil facilities, but he said it had increased the chances of a regional conflict.
“It’s not entirely clear who was behind the attack, but the fact that Ansar Allah has claimed responsibility is bad enough,” Martin Griffiths told the council, using the official name of Yemen’s Houthi group.
“This extremely serious incident makes the chances of a regional conflict that much higher,” he said.
“With Yemen in some way or other linked, none of that is good for Yemen. And this is frankly terrifying.”
Qatar condemns Saudi Aramco attacks
Qatar‘s minister of foreign affairs condemned attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia and said efforts were needed to end conflicts in the region.
“We condemn attacks on vital and civilian facilities, most recently Abqaiq,” Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani wrote on Twitter.
“These wars and conflicts must stop and there must be efforts to achieve collective security in the region.”
Houthi rebels threaten new attacks on Saudi Arabia
Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who claimed responsibility for devastating attacks on Saudi oil facilities, threatened to carry out more raids and urged foreigners to stay away.
“We assure the Saudi regime that our long hand can reach any place we want at any time we choose,” Houthi military spokesman Brigadier Yahya Saree said in a statement.
Saudi Arabian officials are considering delaying plans to sell shares in Saudi Aramco to the public following Saturday’s drone attacks on the state oil giant’s facilities, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
Saudi energy officials and Aramco executives are discussing whether to reschedule its initial public offering (IPO) until after production is fully restored to normal levels, according to the WSJ.
Saudi Arabia shut down its crude oil pipeline to Bahrain after attacks on Saudi oil facilities, two trade sources told Reuters news agency.
The pipeline, which carries 220,000 to 230,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Arab Light crude from state oil company Saudi Aramco to Bahrain’s Bapco, was closed after Saturday’s attack reduced output of mainly light crude grades, one of the sources said.
Bapco is working to secure vessels to bring in about two million barrels of Saudi crude as a result of the pipeline shutdown, the sources said.
US ‘weighs more intel sharing’ with Saudi Arabia
The US is considering increasing its intelligence sharing with Saudi Arabia after Saturday’s attack on Saudi oil facilities that halved the kingdom’s production and jolted world oil markets, US officials told Reuters news agency.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not say how broad any increase in intelligence sharing might be.
But the US, long wary of deep involvement in the war in Yemen, has only selectively shared intelligence with Riyadh about the threats from Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebels.
US, Iran trade barbs at UN nuclear watchdog meeting
The US and Iran traded barbs over Tehran’s nuclear activities as the International Atomic Energy Agency’s general conference got under way in Vienna
Reading a note from Trump, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Washington “will continue to apply maximum pressure both diplomatically and economically to deny Iran any pathway to a nuclear weapon.”
The US last year pulled out unilaterally from the 2015 deal with Iran that promised it economic incentives in exchange for curbs on its atomic activities and has instituted new sanctions that have been hurting the Iranian economy.
Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s nuclear programme, slammed the move, saying “the destructive behaviour of the US administration and the economic terrorism pursued by it against other countries should be condemned and rejected.”
Russia: Don’t blame Iran for Saudi attacks
Russia’s foreign ministry expressed “grave concern” about a weekend attack on key oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.
The ministry said in a statement that it condemns attacks on vital infrastructure or any actions that could disrupt global energy supplies and upset energy prices.
Moscow, however, warned other countries against blaming Iran for the attack and said that plans of military retaliation against Iran were unacceptable.
US believes drone attack not launched from Iraq: Baghdad
Iraq said it had been told by the US that Washington did not suspect the weekend attack on Saudi Arabia had been launched from Iraqi territory.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had told Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi by phone “the information they have confirms the Iraqi government’s statement that its territory was not used to carry out this attack,” the Iraqi government said.
The Iraqi statement said Pompeo and Abdul Mahdi had agreed to share intelligence over the attack.
“The prime minister stressed that Iraq’s duty was to safeguard its own security and stability, to avoid any escalation, and to prevent its territory being used against any neighbouring, brotherly or friendly country,” his office said.
Trump-Rouhani UNGA meeting not on our agenda, Iran says
A meeting between the presidents of Iran and the US on the sidelines of an upcoming United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is not on Tehran’s agenda, the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said.
“We have neither planned for this meeting, nor do I think such a thing would happen in New York,” spokesman Abbas Mousavi told state television.
Media reports speculated that a drone travelling south from Iraq to the eastern oilfields of Saudi Arabia could have travelled over the sea or through Kuwait’s airspace.
Kuwait’s Al Rai newspaper said at dawn on Saturday, an unmanned drone about the size of a small car descended to a height of about 250 metres (820 feet) over the palace, before turning on its lights and flying away.
“Security officials have started the necessary investigation regarding the drone that was seen flying over the coastal area of Kuwait City,” it said.
China, Russia call for de-escalation of tensions
China’s foreign ministry said it was “irresponsible” to blame anyone for the weekend attack on Saudi Arabia, given the absence of a conclusive investigation.
Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Beijing was opposed to the intensification of any conflict.
“We call on the parties concerned to avoid actions that could escalate regional tensions,” Hua said.
In a similar fashion, the Kremlin warned against a hasty reaction to the drone attacks.
“We call on all countries to avoid hasty steps or conclusions that could exacerbate the situation, and on the contrary keep to a line of conduct that will help soften the impact of the situation,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.
Iran says Rouhani-Trump meeting unlikely
Iran’s government said it will not negotiate with the US while it is under its sanctions and urged Washington to return to the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
Iranian Government spokesman Ali Rabiei said on Monday that lifting the sanctions was a main pre-requisite to resuming negotiations. Rabiei said that halting all penalties was the “necessary condition for starting constructive diplomacy”.
Last year, Trump pulled the US out of the deal between Iran and world powers and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic republic that sent the country’s economy into freefall.
German FM: Saudi oil plant attack very ‘worrisome’
Germany‘s foreign minister sharply condemned the attack on the oil sites in Saudi Arabia.
Heiko Maas told reporters on Monday in Berlin the situation was “exceedingly worrisome”, adding “this is really the very last thing that we currently need in this conflict.”
Maas said while Germany was aware of Houthis’ claim of responsibility, it was currently evaluating with its partners who was behind the attack.
According to the country’s Petroleum Industry Association, only 1.1 percent of German oil imports were from Saudi Arabia.
EU urges ‘maximum restraint’ over attacks on Saudi oil facilities
The European Union stressed its call for “maximum restraint” following the weekend attacks on the Saudi oil facilities.
EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told journalists: “We see them [the attacks] as a real threat to regional security, and at a time that tensions in the region are running very high this attack undermines ongoing work at de-escalation and dialogue.”