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Iran threatens to respond ‘firmly’ to US retaliation to oil site attacks

A machine gun mounted on an Iranian oil platform. Marines confiscated weapons and gathered intelligence data from the platform which was later destroyed by gunfire from US destroyers in retaliation for the mining of the guided missile frigate USS SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (FFG 58) in the Persian Gulf. (U.S. National Archives/Released)
September 18, 2019

Officials for the government of Iran warned the U.S. not to take action against it, following attacks on Saudi Arabian oil sites, for which Iran has denied any involvement.

In Iranian warnings, reported Wednesday by the Iranian state-run Islamic Republic News Agency, Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami called allegations of Iranian involvement was a Saudi Arabian and the “Zionist regime” plan to elicit favorable U.S. involvement in the region.

Hatami said the effort was to “drag the US into a conflict in the region. They wished for this.”

“If our country is threatened in any way, we will respond firmly as you saw what happened with the US drone that violated the Iranian airspace,” Hatami said, in reference to a June shootdown of a U.S. drone.

Officials for U.S. CENTCOM disputed claims the drone flew over Iranian airspace and was instead flying over international waters.

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Hatami also suggested the Yemen-based Houthi rebels have previously shown the capacity to conduct long ranged attacks on their own.

“The Yemenis themselves have clearly stated that they launched the attacks. Its logic is clear as well,” Hatami said

He claimed the recent attack was a predictable progression of Houthi rebel efforts, further denying their own involvement in the Saturday attacks, which saw coordinated drone and missile strikes force Saudi Arabia to stop oil productions at Abqaiq and Khurais.

Abqaiq and Khurais were leading contributors to Saudi oil production, which in turn supplies a large portion of the world oil supply.

“Militarily speaking, the Yemenis launched attacks some two years ago when they shot a 1,200-km missile,” the Iranian defense minister said. “The fact that after two years they have reached this precision is very clear and logical as well. It’s clear that its due to the war between the two countries.”

In prior comments following the attack, President Donald Trump expressed disbelief of Iran’s denials of involvement. He also referred to the June incident where Iran shot down the drone, as an indicator of Iranian deception.

“They stuck strongly to that story knowing it was a very big lie,” Trump tweeted. “Now they say that they had nothing do with the attack on Saudi Arabia. We’ll see?”

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is planning to meet with Saudi Arabian officials to gather information about the attack, Military.com reported.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has also reportedly not received a visa to attend meetings at the United Nations.

On Wednesday, Trump also signaled instructions to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to “substantially increase” sanctions against Iran.

Trump has also suggested a joint retaliatory action by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, against Iran.

Trump has signaled the U.S. may tap into its strategic oil reserve to offset disruptions in the market, caused by the attack.