Iran hits back at US after Saudi attacks accusation

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif took a dig at the Trump administration on Sunday, hours after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Tehran of leading attacks on Saudi oil plants that have cut the kingdom’s output roughly in half.

Iran, through a statement issued by a spokesperson of the foreign ministry, has already dismissed US accusations.

Taking to Twitter, Zarif maintained that “blaming Iran won’t end the disaster”. He mocked the US secretary of state by saying: “Having failed at ‘max pressure’, Secretary Pompeo is turning to ‘max deceit’.

“The US and its clients are stuck in Yemen because of illusion that weapon superiority will lead to military victory.

“Blaming Iran won’t end disaster. Accepting our April 2015 proposal to end war and begin talks may.”

Having failed at "max pressure", @SecPompeo's turning to "max deceit"

US & its clients are stuck in Yemen because of illusion that weapon superiority will lead to military victory.

Blaming Iran won't end disaster. Accepting our April '15 proposal to end war & begin talks may.

— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) September 15, 2019

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the drone strikes, but Pompeo said “there is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen”.

“Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy,” Pompeo said, referring to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif.

“Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply,” he added. The State Department declined to provide any evidence to bolster Pompeo’s claim.

“We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran’s attacks,” Pompeo said, warning that the Trump administration would work with its allies to make sure Iran was “held accountable for its aggression.”

Tehran and Washington have been at loggerheads since May last year when President Trump pulled out of a 2015 deal that promised Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.

Since the withdrawal, the United States has slapped crippling sanctions on Iran as part of a campaign of “maximum pressure” and the Islamic republic has responded by reducing its commitments to the nuclear accord.

US blames Iran for Saudi attacks, ‘pretend’ diplomacy

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson had said the US allegations over the pre-dawn strikes on Abqaiq and Khurais in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province were meant to justify actions against Iran.

“Such remarks… are more like plotting by intelligence and secret organisations to damage the reputation of a country and create a framework for future actions,” he said.

“The Americans have taken the policy of ‘maximum pressure’ which has apparently turned into ‘maximum lying’ due to their failures,” said Mousavi.

The arch-foes were on the cusp of confrontation in June when Iran downed a US drone and Trump ordered retaliatory strikes before cancelling them at the last minute.

In remarks published Sunday, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ aerospace arm said Iran’s missiles could hit US bases and ships within a range of 2,000 kilometres (about 1,240 miles).

“Neither us nor the Americans want a war,” Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh said, quoted by Tasnim news agency, which is considered close to the Guards.

“Of course, some forces facing each other in the field could do something, by which a war could start,” the commander said.

“We have always prepared ourselves for a full-fledged war… everyone should know that all American bases and their vessels in a 2,000-kilometre range can be targeted by our missiles,” he added.

(With additional input from AFP, Reuters)

US, Saudi officials investigate possibility the attacks involved missiles launched from Iraq or Iran

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