Attacks on Saudi Oil Sites

Iran blasts Europe’s ‘ridiculous’ accusations

Agence France-Presse . Tehran | Published: 00:00, Sep 25,2019


Iran on Tuesday rejected ‘ridiculous’ allegations that it carried out this month’s attack on Saudi oil infrastructure, after the leaders of France, Germany and Britain backed US conclusions that Tehran was responsible.

‘These allegations, which lack evidence, are based solely on a ridiculous rationale that ‘there is no other possible explanation’, Iran’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The United States and Saudi Arabia have, to various degrees, blamed Tehran for the air attacks on the kingdom’s Abqaiq plant and the Khurais oil field which knocked out half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production.

Iran denies responsibility, and the attacks have been claimed by Yemen’s Iranian-back Huthi rebels.

But in a joint statement on Monday, French president Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British prime minister Boris Johnson also pinned the blame on Iran.

The three countries, which remain party to a nuclear deal with Iran despite the withdrawal of the US last year, urged Iran to engage in dialogue and ‘refrain from choosing provocation and escalation’.

They said they remained committed to the 2015 agreement and urged Iran to roll back steps it has taken since May to reduce its compliance with the deal.

The clerical regime has resumed higher level enrichment activities and installed more advanced centrifuges than allowed under the deal, in response to the accord’s failure to deliver sanctions relief.

A German official said Tuesday that Merkel was planning to meet separately at the UN with US president Donald Trump and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani.

Meanwhile, Iran’s armed forces chief of staff on Tuesday vowed to destroy any enemy that attacked the country, a news agency reported.

‘The result of any aggression will be destruction’ and ‘captivity’, the Fars news agency reported Mohammad Bagheri as telling parliament.

Iran has ‘no animosity towards the countries of the region’, Bagheri said, according to the agency close to the country’s ultra-conservatives.

But he alleged Saudi Arabia and its ally the United Arab Emirates had ‘lost their way’ and were ‘at the source of plots against Iran’.

Tensions have soared in the Gulf since a September 14 attack on Saudi oil facilities that Washington and Riyadh have blamed on Iran, which denies involvement.

In the wake of the attack that slashed Saudi oil output by half, the United States said it had ordered reinforcements to the region.

US president Donald Trump and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani are both to address the UN General Assembly in New York this week.

But no encounter has so far been planned between the two leaders, Trump said late Monday.

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif last week warned that any American or Saudi military strike on Iran would trigger ‘all-out war’.

He said his country did not want conflict, but Tehran would not hesitate to defend its territory.

Tehran and Washington have been at loggerheads since May last year when Trump abandoned a 2015 nuclear deal and began reimposing sanctions on Iran.

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