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Trump announces new hard-hitting Iran sanctions following Saudi oil site attacks

U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin. (Kevin C. Downs/New York Daily News/TNS)
September 18, 2019

After placing Iran under primary suspicion for a series of drone and missile attacks against oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, President Donald Trump has confirmed new sanctions as retaliation against Iran.

Trump announced the decision in a Twitter message Wednesday morning, indicating he had instructed U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin to add even stronger sanctions on the country than already in place before the weekend attacks.

“I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!

Trump and U.S. intelligence officials have indicated Iran as the primary suspect of the attack and on Sunday Trump indicated the U.S. is “locked and loaded” to respond, following Saudi confirmation of the attack and signaling a potential joint retaliatory strike.

The Yemen-based Houthi rebels claimed credit for the attacks on the Saudi oil facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais, which process much of the crude oil supply for the nation.

Though Iran has been identified as a supplier of the Houthi rebels in their civil war, which began in 2015, the Iranian government has denied any involvement in the attack.

“The initial results show that they are Iranian weapons,” Col. Turki al-Maliki, a spokesman for Saudi-led forces in Yemen said in a conference at the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

Saudi government officials indicated Monday they were still trying to determine the launch point for the attack but that they have suspected that it did not come from the Houthis to the South, but rather from Iran, situated to their North.

Saudi Arabia, which has been credited with producing much as one-tenth of the world oil supply, has had to limit its production by around half and world oil prices spiked in the wake of the attack.

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

Energy Secretary Rick Perry has also directed the Energy Department to work with the Paris-based International Energy Agency to determine a “collective global action” to assist the global energy supply.

These latest escalatory steps come at a time of increased U.S. and Iranian tensions.

In June, Iran shot down a U.S. drone flying over international waters. Iran followed the attack with a message that it is “completely ready for war,” with the U.S.

Throughout the summer, Iran has also harassed and captured numerous commercial ships and oil tankers passing close to its territorial waters.