Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday he has “important information” for President Donald Trump about how to respond to the recent attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities after meeting with leaders in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
By: Carla Babb
The top U.S. diplomat said there was “enormous consensus” that Iran was responsible for the middle-of-the-night missile and drone attacks last weekend that at least temporarily knocked out half of the Saudis’ oil production, nearly 6% of the global oil supply.
But he did not hint at how the U.S. might respond.
Pompeo, after meeting with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, told reporters in Dubai, “We are still striving to build out a coalition in an act of diplomacy 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.”
“We’d like a peaceful resolution,” he said. “I hope the Islamic Republic of Iran sees it the same way.”
Pompeo’s remarks came after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif told CNN that any U.S. or Saudi military strike against Iran 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 said. Iran has denied carrying out the attack in Saudi Arabia.
Earlier, Zarif, writing on Twitter, cited a group he called the “B team” — U.S. officials and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — that he sees as intent on driving a war against Iran. He said they are trying to “deceive” Trump into launching war against Iran.
“For their own sake, they should pray that they won’t get what they seek,” Zarif said.
After meeting Wednesday with Saudi officials, Pompeo said, “The U.S. stands with Saudi Arabia and supports its right to defend itself. The Iranian regime’s threatening behavior will not be tolerated.”
Pompeo has been the most definitive among Trump administration officials in placing the blame on Iran. He told reporters traveling with him, “This was an Iranian attack,” and he dismissed claims of responsibility made by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The Defense Department said that “all indications we have are that Iran is in some way responsible for the attack on the Saudi refineries,” but that it was waiting to make a definitive judgment until its assessment with the Saudis of “what took place” was completed.
A spokesman said forensics teams were still investigating evidence found at the scene of the attacks at the Abqaiq oil-processing operations and at the Khurais oil field.
Trump has offered mixed signals about how the U.S. could react, saying Wednesday, “There are many options. There’s the ultimate option [which he said was war], and there are options a lot less than that. We’re in a very strong position,” he told reporters.
Trump’s statement came hours after he said he was “substantially” increasing existing economic sanctions against Iran in the wake of the oil field attacks, with details to come soon. U.S. officials believe the current sanctions have already hobbled the Iranian economy. (VOA News)