Trump threatens Iran after Saudi attack: 'I don't want war but US is more prepared than any country'

Iran denies being behind attacks and vows to defend itself

Andrew Buncombe
Monday 16 September 2019 17:07 BST
Donald Trump on Iran: 'I don't want a war but US is more prepared than any country'

Donald Trump has threatened Iran after accusing it of attacking oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, saying the US was “better prepared” than anyone in history if military action was needed.

Two days after two facilities in Saudi Arabia were attacked and set on fire, a move that cut oil production by five per cent and triggered a global price increase, the president claimed he did not want to go to war with Iran.

Yet he claimed it was “looking that” Iran was behind the attacks, despite its denials. He also said the US had the most powerful military in the world, should he decide on such action.

“We’ll let you know definitively. That’s being checked out right now,” Mr Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, where he was meeting with Bahrain’s crown prince, Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa

“We have a lot of options but I’m not looking at options - right now we want to find definitively who did this. We’re dealing with Saudi Arabia. We’re dealing with the crown prince and other of your neighbours. And we’re all talking about it together. We’ll see what happens.”

Asked it the US was preparing for military action, he said: “I’m somebody that would like not to have war. No, I don’t want war with anybody but we’re prepared more than anybody.”

Although the president withdrew the US from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that had been signed by Barack Obama, he has said he believes Washington and Tehran could come to a fresh agreement. He has made repeated approaches to Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, and there was speculation the two could meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York this month, though that now appears off the table.

Iran has denied being behind the attack on the Saudi facilities, while Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility, saying it was carried out in revenge for the Saudi-led military operation against them. That military operation has been backed by the US and UK among others, and resulted in thousands of civilian deaths and created a humanitarian catastrophe in one of the world’s poorest nations.

The US has claimed the rebels could not have carried out the attacks, and US officials have briefed selected media outlets that it believed Iran was responsible.

Drone attacks spark huge fire at Saudi Aramco, the world's biggest oil processing facility

The US also released images showing the attacked plant and claimed the strikes did not come from the direction of Yemen, but rather from Iran. It has also claimed the attack may have involved cruise missiles.

Despite the claims of secretary of state Mike Pompeo and other, anonymous officials, Washington has yet to provide any solid evidence of Iranian involvement.

Meanwhile, Mr Rouhani said the strike was carried out by “Yemeni people”.

“Yemeni people are exercising their legitimate right of defence,” Mr Rouhani told a joint news conference with his Russian and Turkish counterparts at a meeting in Ankara.

In Tehran, foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi, said: “These allegations are condemned as unacceptable and entirely baseless.”

Saudi Arabia said the attacks were carried out with Iranian weapons, adding that it was capable of responding forcefully and urging UN experts to help investigate the raid.

Iran’s Yemeni allies have promised more strikes to come. Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea said the group carried out Saturday’s pre-dawn attack with drones, including some powered by jet engines.

“We assure the Saudi regime that our long arm can reach any place we choose and at the time of our choosing,” Mr Sarea tweeted. “We warn companies and foreigners against being near the plants that we struck because they are still in our sights.”

Additional reporting by agencies

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