UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Saudi Arabia staged a media tour on Friday to inspect two oil facilities hit by attacks in Washington and Riyadh blamed on Iran, where molten pipes and burning equipment emerged, while Tehran vowed a full-scale response if the tension caused by the attacks In combat.
The kingdom regards the September 14 attacks on the Khurais and Abqaiq facilities, the worst attacks on oil infrastructure in the Gulf since Saddam Hussein set fire to Kuwaiti oil fields in 1991, a test of global will to maintain international order.
US President Donald Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House on Friday, said the United States had imposed sanctions on Iran’s National Bank over the attacks. US Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin said the bank was Tehran’s last source of funds.
Asked about the prospects for a military response to Iran, Trump said the United States was always ready and that a military strike would always be an option.
Iran denies involvement in the attack, which initially halved production by the world’s top oil exporter. The Yemeni Houthi movement claimed responsibility. The Houthis, who are allied with Iran, have been fighting a Saudi-led coalition in the four-year conflict in Yemen.
In Abqaiq, one of the world’s largest oil processing plants, reporters saw a charred and cracked tower. Khalid al-Buraik, vice president of oil business for Saudi Aramco’s southern business district, said the damage to the tower would need to be replaced.
He said the attack on Abqaiq damaged 15 towers and installations, but the site would return to full capacity by the end of September.
At the Khurais facility to the west, which the Saudi Defense Ministry says was hit by four missiles, Reuters reporters saw ongoing repair work and cranes around two burning columns, which are part of units to separate gas from oil and molten pipes.
“We are confident that we will return to full production before the attack (on Khurais) by the end of September,” Fahad Abdul Karim, general manager of Aramco’s Southern Oil Business Area, told reporters during the tour.
– Wreckage –
Workers in red jackets and white helmets have moved around the site, a large complex of several football fields with interconnected structures of pipes and towers.
There was a pile of charred debris on the ground. An executive said the burning rubble had covered much of the land but now there is only a small pile left.
The attack deepened a years-long conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which have been battling for influence at several Middle East hotspots.
Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said on Thursday the attacks were “an extension of Iran’s subversive and aggressive policies, and the international community must shoulder its responsibilities and take a tough stance on Iran’s criminal behavior.”
Iran warned US President Donald Trump on Friday not to be drawn into all-out war in the Middle East and said it would meet any hostile action with a crushing response.
“If the Americans think about any conspiracies, the Iranian nation will retaliate from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean,” Yahya Rahim Safavi, an adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, was quoted as saying on Friday.
– Alliance –
Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah warned Saudi Arabia on Friday not to bet on a war against Iran, saying the Islamic Republic would destroy the kingdom and urged Riyadh and the United Arab Emirates to stop the war in Yemen instead of buying more air defense.
“The war on Iran is not a bet because they will destroy you,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech. “You are your home of glass and your economy is glass like the glass cities of the UAE.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Trump, who ordered more sanctions against Iran, wanted a peaceful solution to the crisis. Pompeo called the attack an act of war.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif questioned Pompeo’s remarks and pointed to repeated Iranian diplomatic initiatives.
“Alliance for a peaceful solution?” He said on Twitter, citing eight Iranian diplomatic initiatives since 1985, including a plan to bring peace to Yemen in 2015.
Zarif later said on Friday it appeared that Saudi Arabia and its ally the UAE wanted to “fight Iran to the last American”.
Oil prices remained on track for the biggest weekly gain since January and Brent crude rose more than 7 percent from last Friday.
President Xi Jinping telephoned Saudi King Salman on Friday, the official Xinhua news agency said. The Chinese president conveyed to King Salman China’s condemnation of the attack on Saudi oil facilities and called on all parties to avoid taking steps that would escalate the situation, the agency said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged all countries in the Gulf region to sit down for talks to defuse tensions and said baseless accusations against Iran about the attacks were adding to that tension, Interfax reported.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.
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