US president says he has ‘reason to believe we know the culprit’, as oil prices rise
Everything you need to know about the Saudi Arabia oil attacks
Mon 16 Sep 2019
Donald Trump has said the US is “locked and loaded” and ready to respond to attacks on a petroleum processing facility in Saudi Arabia, as US officials said the evidence pointed to Iranian involvement.
The US president did not mention Iran, but wrote on Twitter that he had “reason to believe that we know the culprit” behind the series of attacks on the Abqaiq facility, which is the world’s largest petroleum processing plant. The attacks disrupted more than half of the kingdom’s oil output and will affect global supplies.
Trump tweeted: “[We] are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] as to who they believe was the cause of this attack and under what terms we would proceed!”
It is the first time the president has hinted at a potential American military response.
The US government produced satellite photos showing what officials said were at least 19 points of impact at two Saudi energy facilities, including damage at the heart of the kingdom’s crucial oil processing plant at Abqaiq. Officials told US media the photos show impacts consistent with the attack coming from the direction of Iran or Iraq, rather than from Yemen to the south. Iraq denied that its territory was used for an attack on the kingdom. US officials said a strike from there would be a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty.
The US officials said additional devices, which apparently didn’t reach their targets, were recovered northwest of the facilities and are being jointly analysed by Saudi and American intelligence. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, did not address whether the weapons could have been fired from Yemen, then taken a round-about path, but did not explicitly rule it out.
Oil prices rose in the wake of the attack to reach six-month highs on Monday, with gains of as much as 20%. Brent crude oil, the international benchmark, gained almost $12 a barrel reaching up to $71.95 a barrel, before dropping back to $68 a barrel.