National News

Iranian diplomat warns US of 'all-out war'

Iran has warned US President Donald Trump against being dragged into all-out war in the Middle East following an attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities which Washington and Riyadh blame on Tehran.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has described the weekend strike that initially halved Saudi oil output as an act of war and has been discussing possible retaliation with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies.

Trump on Wednesday struck a cautious note, saying there were many options short of war with Iran, which denies involvement in the September 14 strikes. He ordered more sanctions on Tehran.

Iran's foreign minister responded on Thursday by telling CNN that the Islamic Republic "won't blink" if it has to defend itself against any US or Saudi military strike, which he said would lead to "all-out war".

Mohammed Javad Zarif said Pompeo was part of a so-called "B-team", which Tehran says includes Saudi Arabia's crown prince and is trying to dupe Trump into opting for war.

Pompeo said on Wednesday the attack was an act of war against the Saudis.

Riyadh, which called the assault a "test of global will", on Wednesday displayed what it described as remnants of 25 Iranian drones and missiles used in the strike, saying it was undeniable evidence of Iranian aggression.

The United Arab Emirates on Thursday followed its ally Saudi Arabia in announcing it was joining a global maritime security coalition that Washington has been trying to build since a series of explosions on oil tankers in Gulf waters in recent months that were also blamed on Tehran.

Pompeo, who arrived in the UAE from Saudi Arabia on Thursday, welcomed the move on Twitter: "Recent events underscore the importance of protecting global commerce and freedom of navigation."

Oil prices, which soared following the attack, steadied after Saudi Arabia pledged to restore full oil production by the end of September.

Proof of Iranian responsibility, and evidence that the attack was launched from Iranian territory, could pressure Riyadh and Washington, which want to curb Iranian influence in the region, into a response.

Pompeo said the attacks would be a major focus of next week's annual UN General Assembly meeting and suggested Riyadh could make its case there.

Iran's Zarif accused Pompeo of trying to "dodge a US obligation" to issue visas for Iran's UN delegates.

Tehran says the US accusations were part of Washington's "maximum pressure" policy on Iran to force it to renegotiate a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which Trump exited last year, reimposing sanctions to choke off Iran's oil exports.

Tehran, which has gradually scaled back its nuclear commitments, has rejected any talks unless sanctions are lifted.

© RAW 2019