As Trump weighs options, Iranian official warns of all-out war if US or Saudi Arabia attacks
Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley says the president is being ‘cautious’ when it comes to blaming Iran for the devastating weekend attack on a Saudi oil field and the world’s largest crude oil processing plants. (Sept. 17)
WASHINGTON – Iran’s foreign minister on Thursday warned of “all-out war” if the U.S. or Saudi Arabia attacked Tehran in retaliation for its alleged role in the crippling strikes on Saudi oil facilities last weekend.
“We won’t blink to defend our territory,” Javad Zarif told CNN in an interview that aired Thursday morning.
Zarif’s remarks come as the Trump administration weighs a series of options to respond to drone and missile strikes on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the attack an “act of war” on Wednesday as he traveled to the region.
President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he wants a “peaceful” solution to a standoff with Iran, but is also prepared to invoke military action in the wake of an attack on Saudi oil facilities.
“A lot of things could happen,” Trump told Fox & Friends in a Thursday interview broadcast Friday. “We’ll see what happens.”
Saturday’s strikes hit the Abqaiq oil processing plant and a Saudi oil field, where about 5.7 million barrels of oil are produced each day. The attacks disrupted more than 5% of the world’s daily supply.
“This was an Iranian attack,” Pompeo told reporters before landing in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday for meetings with the kingdom’s rulers.
Iranian officials have denied any role in the strikes. The Houthis, an Iranian-backed rebel group which is at war with Saudi Arabia, claimed responsibility for the strikes.
Pompeo called the Houthis’ claim “fraudulent.” Citing U.S. intelligence information, he said the Houthis do not have the weapons used in Saturday’s strikes.
“This is an attack of a scale we’ve just not seen before,” Pompeo asserted.
Trump said Wednesday that the U.S. will slap new sanctions on Iran, although he did not offer any specifics. Trump has vacillated between red-hot rhetoric suggesting a military response and a softer tone emphasizing his desire to avoid war.
“If we have to do something, we’ll do it without hesitation,” Trump said on Wednesday. “There are many options. There’s the ultimate option.”
Critics said Trump’s aggressive sanctions have caused the crisis, and Iran lashes out in response to what it calls “economic warfare.” Democrats in Congress warned that a military strike could lead to all-out war that would cost American lives and disrupt major segments of the oil production system. They said Trump should seek congressional authorization before taking any such step.