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September 16, 2019

Iran behind attacks on Saudi Aramco plants: US

Top Story

September 16, 2019

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blamed Iran for Saturday's drone attacks that set ablaze two major SaudiAramco oil installations, as Saudi Arabia raced to restore operations at the damaged facilities.

Pompeo dismissed a claim by Yemen's Houthi rebels saying Iran "has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply". "There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen," Pompeo said on Twitter, referring to the Houthis' claim of responsibility. He did not provide any evidence to support his claim.

Houthis claimed responsibility for assault on Abqaiq — the world's largest oil processing plant —and the Khurais oilfield, reports the international media.

The pre-dawn strikes knocked out more than half of crude output from the world's top exporter. In response, Iran Sunday dismissed US accusations that it was behind drone attacks.

Iran's foreign ministry Sunday called the US allegations "meaningless" and said they were meant to justify actions against Iran.

"Such remarks ... are more like plotting by intelligence and secret organisations to damage the reputation of a country and create a framework for future actions," spokesman Abbas Mousavi said.

Tensions between the US and Iran have escalated since May last year, when Washington unilaterally pulled out of a 2015 multinational deal that promised Tehran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.

Since its withdrawal, the US has slapped crippling sanctions on Iran as part of a campaign of "maximum pressure". "Having failed at 'max pressure', US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo turning to 'max deceit'," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

"US and its clients are stuck in Yemen because of illusion that weapon superiority will lead to military victory," he added, calling for talks to end the war in the Arab world's most impoverished country.

In a statement on Sunday, the US Department of Energy said it "stands ready to deploy resources from the Strategic Petroleum Oil Reserves (SPRO) if necessary to offset any disruptions to oil markets as a result of this act of aggression."

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