'US President Donald Trump has said that Washington has “a reason to believe” it knows the mastermind behind the drone strikes on the Saudi oil refineries and is poised to respond pending the confirmation from Riyadh.
“Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. 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!” Trump tweeted Sunday.
“PLENTY OF OIL!,” he added in a follow-up tweet.
Although the attacks on the two Saudi oil facilities were claimed by the Houthi rebels, Washington has immediately pointed the finger at Tehran, claiming that the attack was too complex and too devastating to be coordinated by the rebels. A senior US official told Reuters that the US intelligence believes the attack generated from the direction of Iraq and Iran, rather than from the area controlled by the Houthis.
Trump's annonucement comes shortly after he green-lighted the release of the US emergency petroleum reserves, “if needed,” to offset the fifty percent drop in production by Saudi Aramco, whose largest Abqaiq oil processing plant was crippled as result of the Saturday morning attacks.
Riyadh so far has fallen short of naming the perpetrator, branding the drone strikes “terrorist attacks,” aimed at disrupting the global oil supply. Tehran has dismissed the allegations of its involvement, calling the US claims "maximum lies" and saying that it was ready to protect itself in case a war breaks out.
Following the recent resignation of hawkish US National Security Adviser John Bolton, there have been some tentative hopes of a looming thaw between Tehran and Washington. On Wednesday, Trump seemingly hinted he was open to easing the crippling sanctions stifling the Iranian economy. “We’ll see what happens,” he said, when asked about this possibility. Earlier this week, Trump said that he would have “no problem” in meeting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, with US State Secretary Mike Pompeo telling reporters on Tuesday that “the President has made very clear he is prepared to meet with no preconditions.”
Read more: Trump says he waits to hear from Riyadh on oil attacks’ culprit, US ‘locked & loaded’ to respond
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