President Donald Trump said the United States is “locked and loaded” to respond to an attack on a Saudi oil field over the weekend, pending verification by the kingdom on who the attackers are.
Trump’s remarks came as he authorized the release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve after Saudi oil production reportedly plummeted in the wake of the story.
“Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked,” Trump wrote on Twitter on the evening of Sept. 15. “There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!”
His tweet follows a statement from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the weekend that Iran was to blame for the attack on Saudi oil infrastructure, coming amid elevated tensions between Iran and the United States.
“Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy,” Pompeo said via Twitter. “Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.”
A senior unnamed US official told ABC News that Iran fired cruise missiles at the oil facility and used more than 20 drones.
“It was Iran. The Houthis are claiming credit for something they did not do,” the official said, referring to the Iran-backed Shia militia that has taken over swaths of Yemen.
After Pompeo’s assertion, Iranian officials simultaneously denied responsibility for the attacks and issued threats.
“The Saudi-led coalition has been fueling the flames of war in the region with recurrent acts of aggression against Yemen and committing various war crimes for around five years, while Yemenis have proved that they stand against war and aggression,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said, according to the state-backed Tasnim News Agency.
A general also said Iran is ready for a “full-fledged” war with the United States.
“Everybody should know that all American bases and their aircraft carriers in a distance of up to 2,000 kilometers around Iran are within the range of our missiles,” Amirali Hajizadeh, an Iranian commander, told Tasnim in a separate report.
Oil Prices Jump
As of Monday, oil prices across the globe spiked following the Saudi attacks, Reuters reported, noting it has been the largest oil surge since 1991.
Two sources briefed on state oil company Saudi Aramco’s operations told Reuters it might take months for Saudi oil production to return to normal. Earlier estimates had suggested it could take weeks.
Oil prices surged by as much as 19 percent before coming off peaks. The intraday jump was the biggest since the 1991 Gulf War.
U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry pinned the blame squarely on Iran for “an attack on the global economy and the global energy market.”
“The United States wholeheartedly condemns Iran’s attack on Saudi Arabia and we call on other nations to do the same,” he said in a speech to an annual meeting in Vienna of the U.N. nuclear watchdog IAEA. He added that he was confident the oil market “is resilient and will respond positively.”
Reuters contributed to this report.