Trump: US locked and loaded for possible response to Saudi oil attack
President Donald Trump declares US is ready to act after official says data shows Iran was behind strike on oil facility
WASHINGTON : US President Donald Trump said on Sunday that the United States was "locked and loaded" for a potential response to the attack on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities, after a senior official in his administration said Iran was to blame.
"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!" Mr Trump said on Twitter.
He said he had also authorised the use of the US emergency oil stockpile to ensure a stable supply after the attack, which shut 5 per cent of the global production.
A senior US official had earlier told reporters that evidence from the attack, which hit the world's biggest oil-processing facility, indicated that Iran was behind it, instead of the Yemeni Houthi group that had claimed responsibility.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi dismissed the US allegation that it was responsible as "pointless".
A senior Revolutionary Guards commander warned that the Islamic Republic was ready for "full-fledged" war.
"All American bases and their aircraft carriers in a distance of up to 2,000km around Iran are within the range of our missiles," the semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Commander Amirali Hajizadeh as saying.
The US official, who asked not to be named, said on Sunday there were 19 points of impact in the attack on Saudi facilities and that evidence showed the launch area was west-northwest of the targets - not south from Yemen.
The official added that Saudi officials indicated they had seen signs that cruise missiles were used, which is inconsistent with the Iran-aligned Houthi group's claim that it conducted the attack with 10 drones.
"There is no doubt that Iran is responsible. No matter how you slice it, there is no escaping it. There is no other candidate," the official said.
The attack came after Mr Trump said a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was possible at the UN General Assembly in New York this month.
Teheran had ruled out talks until sanctions are lifted.
On Sunday, Mr Trump appeared to play down the chances that he is willing to meet with Iranian officials.
A Saudi-led coalition has responded to past Houthi attacks with air strikes on the group's military sites in Yemen.
The conflict has been in military stalemate for years.
The Saudi alliance has air supremacy but has come under scrutiny over civilian deaths and a humanitarian crisis that has left millions facing starvation.
The Houthis, adept at guerrilla warfare, have increased attacks on Saudi cities, thwarting peace efforts. - REUTERS