'Nothing left' if Iran hit Saudi facility: FM Zarif

'Nothing left' if Iran hit Saudi facility: FM Zarif ...
aljazeera.com 23/09/2019 Politics

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War of words over Saudi oil attacks with the US continues as Iranian leaders arrive for the UN General Assembly.
23 Sep 2019 18:01 GMT
Tensions in the Middle East have surged following drone attacks on two major oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.
The pre-dawn attacks knocked out more than half of the output from the world's top exporter - five percent of the global oil supply - or about 5.7 million barrels per day.
Yemen's Houthi rebels, who have been locked in a war with a Saudi-UAE-led coalition since 2015, claimed responsibility for the attacks, warning Saudi Arabia their targets "will keep expanding".
But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo swiftly accused Iran of being behind the assault, without providing any evidence. The claim was rejected by Tehran that said the allegations were meant to justify "actions" against it.
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, promised to "confront and deal with this terrorist aggression", while US President Donald Trump hinted at possible military action.
Here are the latest updates:
Monday, September 23
'Time now to move forward' - British PM on Iran deal
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is urging the United States and its allies to strike a new nuclear deal with Iran to replace the current one.
Johnson said "whatever your objections with the old nuclear deal with Iran, it's time now to move forward and do a new deal". Johnson's 10 Downing St. office clarified that Britain still backed the existing deal and wanted Iran to return
Trump, when asked about his British counterpart's call for a new Iran deal, said: "Boris is a very smart man," without elaborating further.
Iran blames US for ending negotiations
Iran's top diplomat says President Donald Trump "closed the door to negotiations" with the latest U.S. sanctions, which raised the status of Iran's central bank to a "global terrorist" institution.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters at the UN on Monday: "I know that President Trump did not want to do that," adding he "must have been misinformed."
Zarif said President Hassan Rouhani will be proposing a new Hormuz Peace Initiative for the region with two key principles: Non-intervention and non-aggression.
'We'll see what happens', says Trump on meeting Rouhani
US President Donald Trump, arriving at the UN General Assembly, was asked about the possibility of meeting Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani after tensions escalated.
"We'll see what happens," Trump he told reporters.
But Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif suggested a face-to-face was unlikely.
"We haven't received any requests this time, yet, for a meeting and we have made it clear a request alone will not do the job," Zarif said. "A negotiation has to be for a reason, for an outcome, not just for a handshake."
'Nothing left' if Iran hit Saudi oil facility: FM Zarif
Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said a military strike would have completely knocked out Saudi's Arabia's main oil producing facility, again denying accusations that his country was behind the oil attacks.
The comments came after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was holding Tehran responsible.
"If Iran was behind this attack, nothing would be left of this refinery," Zarif told reporters in New York ahead of the UN General Assembly.
US 'maximum pressure' campaign has failed: Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said new US sanctions imposed last week blacklisting Iran's central bank for a second time pointed to US "desperation" in the face of Iranian resistance.
"Americans are sanctioning institutions that have already been blacklisted. This signals America's complete desperation and shows that its 'maximum pressure' has failed ... as the great Iranian nation has resisted successfully," Rouhani said in remarks carried by state television.
"The [Gulf] region has become intense... They make propaganda about [oil] damage [in Saudi Arabia] that can be repaired in two weeks ... because America wants to conquer the region."
European states split over Saudi attack
Britain and France were at odds over who to blame for an attack on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities, potentially complicating efforts to defuse tensions between the United States and Iran at the UN General Assembly.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeared to break ranks with his European counterparts by directly blaming Iran for the attack on Saudi Arabia.
However, French officials have been extremely cautious not to point the finger specifically at Tehran, fearing it could increase tensions.
"One must be very careful in attributing responsibility," French President Emmanuel Macron told Le Monde newspaper while en route to New York.
Iran calls on UK to stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia
Iran is criticising British Prime Minister Boris Johnson after he said Britain has concluded Iran was responsible for attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil industry.
Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency quoted Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi condemning "fruitless efforts against the Islamic Republic of Iran".
Mousavi said "the British government should stop selling lethal weapons to Saudi Arabia" over its war in Yemen.
China's Xi: Gulf disputes should be resolved peacefully
Disputes in the Gulf should be resolved peacefully via talks, and all sides should remain calm and exercise restraint, Chinese President Xi Jinping told Iraq's visiting prime minister, state television reported.
"At present the situation in the Gulf region of the Middle East is complex and sensitive," the report cited Xi as saying, without directly mentioning the Saudi attacks.
Europe petrol exports to Middle East surge after attacks
Petrol exports from Europe to the Middle East and Asia are set to surge this week after the attacks on the oil facilities.
More than 400,000 tonnes of petrol and petrol blending components have been booked in the past week for loading between September 21 and 26 out of northwest Europe with Middle East Gulf delivery options, shipping data showed.
The flow is the equivalent of about 500,000 barrels per day.
It is unclear where the cargoes will end up, but traders said that Aramco was seeking to buy large volumes of refined oil products.
Oil falls below $64 on Saudi oil restart prospects
Oil fell below $64 a barrel, reversing an earlier gain, pressured by the prospect of a faster-than-expected full restart of Saudi Arabian oil output and by fresh signs of European economic weakness.
A source, briefed on the latest developments in the September 14 attack on Saudi oil facilities, told Reuters news agency that Saudi Arabia had restored about 75 percent of crude output lost.
Global benchmark Brent crude fell 30 cents to $63.98 a barrel at 10:45 GMT, having earlier risen as high as $65.50.
Macron: Attacks don't help prospects for US-Iran summit
The attack on the Aramco facilities did not help diplomatic efforts to organise talks between US President Donald Trump and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani, French President Emmanuel Macron told Le Monde newspaper.
Macron was cited saying that caution was needed in attributing blame for the attack, which shook global oil markets.
With both Trump and Rouhani in New York at the same time, Macron said there was an opportunity for a discussions to take place, but acknowledged that "the chances of a meeting had certainly not increased".
Amanpour: Zarif says Rouhani willing to meet Trump
CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour quoted Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif as saying that President Hassan Rouhani was willing to meet US President Donald Trump in New York this week if sanctions were scrapped in exchange for "permanent monitoring" of Iran's nuclear activities.
In another tweet, Amanpour quoted Zarif saying: "The olive branch has always been on the table, but we're showing it again."
There has been no statement from Zarif himself about what Amanpour attributed to him.
Rouhani: Iran to offer its own rival security coalition in Gulf
Iran's president said his country will offer its own rival security coalition in the Gulf.
Rouhani said Iran would invite "all littoral states of the Persian Gulf" to join its coalition "to guarantee the region's security".
He said the initiative was not limited to "security" but also encompassed economic cooperation and would be presented in detail at the UN.
UK says Iran responsible for attack on Saudi oil facilities
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain had concluded Iran was responsible for the attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, and Britain would consider taking part in a US-led military effort to bolster the Gulf kingdom's defences.
But Johnson also said his country would work with allies to "de-escalate" Middle East tensions.
The Conservative prime minister told reporters flying with him on Sunday to New York for the UN General Assembly that Britain "is attributing responsibility with a very high degree of probability to Iran" for the September 14 attack by drones and cruise missiles.
Sunday, September 22
Pompeo says US wishes to avoid war with Iran
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the US aims to avoid war with Iran, adding that the order to deploy troops in the Gulf region is for "deterrence and defence".
"Our mission set is to avoid war," Pompeo told Fox News. "You saw what [defence] Secretary Esper announced on Friday, we are putting additional forces in the region for the purpose of deterrence and defence.
"If that deterrence should continue to fail, I am also confidant that President Trump would continue to take the actions that are necessary," he added.
What's next for Saudi Aramco and world oil markets?
Al Jazeera's current affairs programme Counting the Cost discusses why Saudi Arabia's billion-dollar defences failed to protect its oil facilities and how it affects oil prices.
Watch the Counting the Cost episode here.
Navy commander says Iran ready to defend marine borders
The head of Iran's navy said the Islamic republic was ready to defend its marine borders and would deliver a "crushing reaction" to any aggression.
"In case of any miscalculation and aggression by the enemy, [the navy], along with other armed forces of the country, will give the most crushing reaction in the shortest time possible," Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi was cited as saying by the semi-official Mehr news agency.
"Today, the Islamic Republic of Iran's defence power is at its highest possible level and forces of army and [Revolutionary Guards] are ready to defend marine borders of the country."
'Entirely implausible' to say Houthis behind Saudi attack: UK
Dominic Raab, the British foreign secretary, said it was implausible that attacks on Saudi oil facilities were conducted by Yemen's Houthi movement, adding that Riyadh had the right to defend itself against any further strikes.
"I find it, from the information I have seen, I find it entirely implausible and lacking in credibility to suggest that those attacks came from Houthi rebels," Raab told the BBC, but he declined to say to whom Britain attributed the attacks.
"Before we attribute responsibility I want to be absolutely crystal clear, because that will mean the action that we take can be as robust and as widely supported as possible."
Iran to present regional security plan at UNGA: Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country would present a regional cooperation plan to create security in the Gulf when he attends the United Nations General Assembly this week.
In a televised speech marking the anniversary of the start of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, Rouhani said Iran extended its "hand of friendship and brotherhood" towards countries in the region willing to cooperate in the Tehran-led effort to oversee security in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, a vital gateway for the global oil industry.
But in response to a recent decision by the US to send more troops to the area, Rouhani went on to warn against the presence of foreign forces in the Gulf.
"Foreign forces can cause problems and insecurity for our people and for our region," Rouhani said.
Read more here.
UN welcomes Houthi offer to halt attacks on Saudi Arabia
The UN envoy for Yemen welcomed an offer from the country's Houthi rebels to halt all attacks on Saudi Arabia, saying it could bring an end to years of bloody conflict.
Martin Griffiths said the implementation of the initiative by the Houthis "in good faith could send a powerful message of the will to end the war".
Read more here.
Saturday, September 21
Saudi says will respond if Iran role confirmed
Saudi Arabia's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said Riyadh would take the appropriate steps if its investigation confirmed that Iran was responsible for the attacks.
"The kingdom will take the appropriate measures based on the results of the investigation, to ensure its security and stability," al-Jubeir told a news conference, declining to speculate about specific actions.
"We are certain that the launch did not come from Yemen, it came from the north. The investigations will prove that."
Iran threatens to make any aggressor 'main battlefield'
The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards warned that any country that attacks the Islamic republic will see its territory turn into the conflict's "main battlefield".
"Whoever wants their land to become the main battlefield, go ahead," Guards commander Hossein Salami told a news conference in Tehran. "We will never allow any war to encroach upon Iran's territory."
"Be careful, a limited aggression will not remain limited. We are after punishment and we will continue until the full destruction of any aggressor," he said.
Zarif: Saudi and UAE want to 'fight Iran to the last American' (2:04)
CEO: Saudi Aramco 'stronger than ever'
Saudi Aramco has emerged from the September 14 attacks on its oil facilities "stronger than ever", Chief Executive Officer Amin Nasser told employees in a message.
"The fires that were intended to destroy Saudi Aramco had an unintended consequence: they galvanised 70,000 of us around a mission to rebound quickly and confidently, and Saudi Aramco has come out of this incident stronger than ever," said the message.
Read more here.
Friday, September 20
US to deploy more troops to Saudi Arabia
The Pentagon said the United States will deploy additional troops and military equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to beef up security, as Trump decided, at least for now, against any immediate military attacks in response to those on the Saudi oil industry.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said this was just the first step, and he did not rule out additional moves down the road. He said the deployment was a response to requests from the Saudis and the UAE to help improve their air and missile defences.
Read more here.
INSIDE STORY: Can the US guarantee Gulf security? (25:01)
Houthis say will stop all attacks on Saudi Arabia
An official with the Houthis said the rebel group will stop aiming missile and drone attacks at Saudi Arabia, warning that a continuation of the war could lead to "dangerous developments".
"We declare ceasing to target the Saudi Arabian territory with military drones, ballistic missiles and all other forms of weapons, and we wait for a reciprocal move from them," Mahdi al-Mashat, head of the Houthis' supreme political council said on Al Masirah TV.
"We reserve the right to respond if they fail to reciprocate positively to this initiative," he said, adding that the continuation of the Yemen war "will not benefit any side".
Read more here.
Hezbollah threatens Saudi Arabia, demands end to Yemen war
The leader of the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah has called on Saudi Arabia to stop its war in Yemen, or else it will face more attacks on its soil.
In a televised speech, Hassan Nasrallah warned Saudi Arabia and the UAE not to incite war "because your houses are made of glass".
Nasrallah said one attack on Saudi Arabia knocked out half of the country's oil production, so "what will another strike do?".
He said buying more air defences from the US would not help the kingdom defend itself, and added that Yemen's Houthi rebels had sophisticated missiles and drones.
Saudi Arabia "should think well, as a war with Iran will mean their destruction," he added.
Iran's Zarif says Saudi, UAE want to 'fight Iran to the last American'
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that US-allied Saudi Arabia and the UAE seem to wish to "fight Iran to the last American".
Zarif was responding to a statement a day earlier by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a visit to Abu Dhabi saying that: "While the foreign minister of Iran is threatening all-out war and to fight to the last American, we're here to build up a coalition aimed at achieving peace."
Zarif tweeted on Friday: "@SecPompeo has it the other way around: It's not #Iran that wishes to fight to the last American; rather, it is his #B_Team hosts who seem to wish to fight Iran to the last American."
Zarif has in the past said that a so-called "B-team" including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and Abu Dhabi's crown prince could goad the US president into conflict with Tehran.
Aramco says full output from Khurais site to resume by end of September
Saudi Aramco is confident full production will resume by the end of September from Khurais, one of two oil sites attacked a week ago, a company executive said.
Aramco was shipping equipment from the US and Europe to rebuild the damaged facilities, Fahad Abdulkarim, Aramco's general manager for the southern area oil operation, told reporters on a tour organised by the state company.
Reuters reporters were shown repair work under way, with cranes erected around two burnt-out stabilisation columns, which form part of oil-gas separation units, and melted pipes.
"We are working 24/7," Abdulkarim said.
Yemen rebels accuse Saudi, allies of 'serious escalation' in Hodeidah
Yemen's Houthi rebels accused Saudi Arabia and its allies of endangering a fragile truce around Hodeidah with strikes on four rebel targets north of the key aid port.
"The intensive raids on Hodeidah are a serious escalation that could torpedo the Sweden agreement," one of the rebels' leaders, Mohammed Abdulsalam, said, referring to the UN-supervised truce agreed outside Stockholm in December.
Thursday's strikes were the first reported against the Iran-backed rebels since they claimed a twin attack on Saudi Arabia's oil industry last weekend that Washington and Riyadh have blamed on Tehran.
"The [Saudi-led] coalition will be responsible for the consequences of this escalation and we'll be watching the UN stance on this situation closely," Abdessalem added, in comments reported by the rebels' Al Masirah television.
The coalition destroyed four sites outside Hodeidah used by the rebels to assemble remote control vessels and marine mines, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.
Thursday, September 19
Imran Khan says Pakistan fully supports Saudi Arabia
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said his country fully supports the kingdom following the last week's attack.
Khan made the comments during a visit to Saudi Arabia, where he met Saudi's MBS.
The prime minister added he strongly condemned the attack on the Saudi oil facilities, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
Russia calls for talks to defuse tensions
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday urged all countries in the Gulf to sit down for talks to defuse tensions following an attack on Saudi oil infrastructure, Russian news agency Interfax reported.
Speaking in Moscow, Lavrov called for measures to be put in place to stop a similar situation happening in the region again and said that groundless accusations against Iran over the attacks were inflaming tensions.
Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif warns of 'all-out war'
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the result of any US or Saudi military attack against his country would result in an "all-out war".
"I am making a very serious statement that we don't want war; we don't want to engage in a military confrontation ... But we won't blink to defend our territory," Zarif told CNN.
"Act of war"or AGITATION for WAR?
Remnants of #B_Team ( ambitious allies) try to deceive @realdonaldtrump into war.
For their own sake, they should pray that they won't get what they seek.
They're still paying for much smaller #Yemen war they were too arrogant to end 4yrs ago.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) September 19, 2019
Yemen rebel claim over Saudi oil attacks 'lacks credibility': France
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that a claim by Yemeni rebels to have carried out attacks on two Saudi oil facilities "lacks credibility".
"The Houthis, who are Yemeni rebels, announced that it was they who provoked this attack, which lacks credibility," Le Drian told France's CNews channel referring to the missile and drone attacks, which the US and Riyadh have blamed on Saudi's arch-foe Iran.
"But given that there is an international investigation let's wait for the results," he added.
Le Drian linked the timing of the attacks to next week's UN General Assembly in New York, where a meeting President Donald Trump and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani had been mooted.
"We need now to return to the principle of de-escalation," he said.
Saudi envoy to Germany says all options on the table against Iran
The Saudi ambassador to Germany said all options were on the table in retaliation to attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities that the kingdom has blamed on Iran.
Asked about the possibility of a military strike against Iran, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said: "Of course everything is on the table but you have to discuss that well."
"We're still working on where they were launched from but wherever they came from, Iran is certainly behind them as Iran built them and they could only be launched with Iranian help," he told Germany's Deutschlandfunk radio.
UAE joins US-led coalition to protect Middle East waterways
The UAE says it has joined a US-led coalition to protect waterways across the Middle East after an attack on Saudi oil installations.
The state-run WAM news agency quoted Salem al-Zaabi of the Emirati Foreign Ministry as saying the UAE joined the coalition to "ensure global energy security and the continued flow of energy supplies to the global economy."
Saudi Arabia joined the coalition on Wednesday. Australia, Bahrain and the United Kingdom also are taking part.
The US formed the coalition after attacks on oil tankers that US officials blame on Iran, as well as Iran's seizure of tankers in the region. Iran denies being behind the tanker explosions.
Wednesday, September 18
Kuwait army prepares as regional tensions soar
Kuwait's army said it was raising its readiness levels and carrying out military exercises amid soaring regional tensions.
Kuwait also said it was investigating accounts that a drone intruded into its airspace and flew over the royal palace on Saturday, the same day two Saudi oil facilities were attacked.
The army was aiming to reach the "highest levels of readiness and combat efficiency" in order to "preserve the security of the country and the safety of its lands, waters and airspace from any potential dangers".
Kuwait's government has already beefed up security measures around vital installations in the country.
Kuwait's Al-Rai newspaper reported at dawn on Saturday, an unmanned drone about the size of a small car came down to a height of about 250 metres over the palace, before turning on its lights and flying away.
It said the drone continued flew over the seaside residential palace of Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, who is undertaking medical tests in the US.
Pompeo: Saudi oil attacks an 'act of war'
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure as an "act of war", as he arrived in the kingdom.
"This was an Iranian attack," Pompeo told reporters on his plane before landing in the western city of Jeddah, calling it "an act of war".
Pompeo met Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) and is scheduled to travel to neighbouring UAE next.
Trump says 'many options' on Iran response
Trump said he has "many options" in addition to military attacks against Iran and that details of newly announced sanctions would come within 48 hours.
Asked by reporters in Los Angeles about a possible US attack on Iran, Trump said "there are many options. There's the ultimate option and there are options a lot less than that."
He explained that by "ultimate option" he meant "war."
UN sends experts to probe Saudi attacks
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said UN experts have already left for Saudi Arabia to investigate attacks on key Saudi oil installations.
Guterres told reporters the experts were sent under the UN Security Council resolution that endorsed the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers.
It requires the secretary-general to report every six months on the implementation of the nuclear agreement, which includes restrictions on arms-related transfers to and from Iran.
US, UK agree on 'unified response' to Aramco attacks
The US and UK agreed on a "unified response" to last Saturday's attacks on the Aramco oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, a British government statement said.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Trump "condemned the attacks and discussed the need for a united diplomatic response from international partners," in a phone conversation, it said.
Zarif: US escalating economic war on Iranians
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused Trump of escalating economic pressure on ordinary Iranians by ordering a major increase in sanctions on the country.
"Escalating US economic war on Iranians, @realDonaldTrump ordered SoT "to substantially increase sanctions against the country of Iran!" Zarif said on Twitter.
"It's admission that US is deliberately targeting ordinary citizens....Stop war and terror."
Escalating US economic WAR on Iranians, @realDonaldTrump ordered SoT "to substantially increase sanctions against the COUNTRY of Iran!"
It's admission that US is DELIBERATELY targeting ordinary citizens: #EconomicTerrorism, illegal & inhuman.
ُStop war & terror. #Security4All.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) September 18, 2019
Saudi Arabia 'knows nothing', says Iranian official
Saudi Arabia proved that "it knows nothing", an adviser to Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said, after the kingdom displayed evidence it said proved the assault on its oil sites was "unquestionably sponsored" by Tehran.
"The press conference proved that Saudi Arabia knows nothing about where the missiles and drones were made or launched from and failed to explain why the country's defence system failed to intercept them," Hesameddin Ashena wrote on Twitter.
Yemen's Houthis threaten to attack UAE targets
Yemen's Houthi rebels threatened to attack the UAE, days after they claimed attacks on key oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.
Yahia Sarie, a spokesperson for the Houthi forces, told a press conference they have "dozens of targets" in the UAE that "could be targeted at any time."
He also added the Houthis have new drones, powered by "normal and jet engines" that can reach targets deep in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi: Oil attacks unquestionably sponsored by Iran
Saudi Arabia's defence ministry said the weekend attacks on the kingdom's oil facilities came from the north and were "unquestionably sponsored by Iran".
At a press conference in the capital, Riyadh, to reveal the military's findings, Saudi defence ministry spokesperson Col. Turki al-Malki said Iranian cruise missiles and drones were used.
"The attack was systematically and intentionally planned to destroy civilian infrastructure," he said.
Oil attacks 'unquestionably sponsored by Iran': Saudi Arabia (15:50)
Al-Malki also refuted claims by Yemen's Houthi rebels, who said they were behind the strikes.
"The attack did not originate from Yemen," he said.
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