US President Donald Trump yesterday said he ordered a major increase in sanctions on Iran as Saudi Arabia displayed remnants of drones and missiles it said Tehran used in a crippling weekend attack on its oil facilities.
Trump gave no explanation in a brief Twitter posting announcing the order, but the initiative follows repeated US assertions that the Islamic Republic was behind Saturday’s attack on the kingdom, a close US ally.
“I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase sanctions on the country of Iran!,” he wrote.
Iran, however, again denied involvement in the September 14 raids, which hit the world’s biggest crude processing facility and initially knocked out half of Saudi production.
“They want to impose maximum ... pressure on Iran through slander,” Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said.
“We don’t want conflict in the region ... Who started the conflict?” he added, blaming Washington and its Gulf allies for the war in Yemen.
Yemen’s Houthi movement, an ally of Iran battling a Western-backed, Saudi-led coalition for more than four years, has claimed responsibility and said it used drones to assault state oil company Aramco’s sites.
However, the Saudi Defence Ministry held a news conference, displaying drone and missile debris it said was “undeniable” evidence of Iranian aggression. A total of 25 drones and missiles were used in the attacks launched from Iran not Yemen, the ministry spokesman added.
Saturday’s attack exposed the vulnerability of Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure and threw down a gauntlet to the United States, which wants to curb Tehran’s influence in the region.