- Trump says ‘many options’ at his disposal
- Khamenei approved Saudi strike: report
- Rouhani may skip UN meet over US visa delay
Iran’s foreign minister yesterday said a military strike on Iran would trigger “all-out war”, as the United States and its Gulf allies accuse Iran of being behind attacks on Saudi oil facilities.
Asked about the consequence of “an American or Saudi military strike on Iran” in an interview with CNN aired on Thursday, Mohammad Javad Zarif responded: “An all-out war.”
“We don’t want war, we don’t want to engage in a military confrontation,” he said, warning it would lead to “a lot of casualties”.
“But we won’t blink to defend our territory,” he added.
The statement came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced the attacks as an “act of war” by Iran.
Yemen’s Iran-backed Huthi rebels have claimed responsibility for Saturday’s strikes on Saudi oil infrastructures, but the United States says it has concluded the attack involved cruise missiles from Iran.
Saudi Arabia, which has been bogged down in a five-year war in neighbouring Yemen, has said Iran “unquestionably sponsored” the attacks and the weapons used in them were Iranian-made, but has not directly blamed its regional rival.
The attacks on the heart of the Saudi oil industry knocked out half its production.
Pompeo, after talking with Gulf allies, yesterday said his country wanted a “peaceful resolution” to the crisis.
“We’d like a peaceful resolution. I hope the Islamic Republic of Iran sees it the same way,” he told reporters after talks with the leaders of the United Arab Emirates.
Pompeo flew to Abu Dhabi from the Saudi city of Jeddah, where he met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who has said the assault poses a “real test” of global will.
The two sides “agreed that the Iranian regime must be held accountable for its continued aggressive, reckless, and threatening behaviour,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in statement after their talks.
On Wednesday, Riyadh unveiled new evidence it said showed the assault was “unquestionably” sponsored by Tehran. Saudi officials displayed what they said were fragments of 25 drones and cruise missiles fired on Saturday at two facilities in the country’s east, engulfing them in flames.
Huthi military spokesman Brigadier Yahya Saree said however that the assault on the two facilities was launched from three locations inside Yemen, using advanced drones with long-range capabilities.
Asked by reporters about a possible US attack on Iran, US President Donald Trump on Wednesday said “there are many options. There’s the ultimate option and there are options a lot less than that.” He explained that by “ultimate option” he meant “war.”
US military planners weighing retaliation have reportedly forwarded a list of Iranian targets including the Abadan oil refinery, one of the world’s largest, or Khark Island, the country’s biggest oil export facility, the New York Times said. Other potential targets include missile launch sites and other assets of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and bases in the southwest where unusual activity suggests they had a role in the strikes.
Late Wednesday CBS News cited an unnamed US official as saying that Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei approved the attack, on condition that it be carried out in a way to deny Iranian involvement.
Meanwhile, Iran’s state news agency IRNA said President Hassan Rouhani and his delegation could be forced into skipping next week’s UN General Assembly because the United States has yet to issue them visas.