Saudi Arabia revealed yesterday that, contrary to its initial estimates, Aramco should be able to restore oil production to 100% capacity by the end of the month. And on Wednesday morning, the kingdom's Defense Ministry said it was planning a press conference to present "material evidence" purportedly linking Tehran to the unprecedented attack on the Kingdom's oil infrastructure.
The country's defense ministry will hold a news conference later in the day laying out new evidence. This follows reports from the US claiming that the roughly 20 missiles and drones used in the attack had been traced back to a 'launch site' in southern Iran.
Tehran has denied involvement in the Sept. 14 attacks, while the Houthi rebels in nearby Yemen have claimed credit. But Washington and Riyadh have adamantly blamed Iran, whom they have blamed for several 'attacks' in the region since the start of the year.
Of course, this attack would represent a serious escalation from the tanker bombings and the downing of an American drone. Some have speculated that Tehran has nothing to gain from attacks like this, which only serves to provoke the West and Saudi Arabia. The Houthis have carried out several attacks within Saudi Arabia, including the bombing of an airport earlier this year, but experts say the precision of the attack on Aramco's Abqaiq plant was far more sophisticated than anything the armed movement has ever pulled off. Experts said cruise missiles were likely used to target critical components of the oil complex.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and several senior US officials are heading to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, as are several UN experts responsible for monitoring sanctions on Iran and Yemen, and another team of investigators that will report to the Security Council, according to Reuters.
The Defense Ministry's news conference will begin Wednesday at 10:30 am ET.
The Saudi Defense Ministry said it will hold a news conference on Wednesday at 1430 GMT to present "material evidence and Iranian weapons proving the Iranian regime’s involvement in the terrorist attack." Riyadh has already said preliminary results showed the attack did not come from Yemen.
The Iranian leadership infamously threatened that if they couldn't export crude oil, "no one would" shortly after Washington ended waivers for countries reliant on Iranian oil. The Iranian leadership has ruled out meeting with President Trump, arguing that this would only validate the administration's strategy of maximum pressure.
Other countries, including Japan, have said they haven't seen any intelligence linking the attacks to Iran. But that hasn't deterred one senior US official from asking the UN Security Council to respond.
Several senior officials in the Trump Administration assured Reuters that the Saudi investigation would yield "compelling forensic evidence" showing the location of the attack's origins.
Trump said Monday that there was "no rush" to retaliate, and that the US was working closely with Gulf states and its European allies. But the US and Saudi Arabia are pushing Iran to stop providing financial assistance to groups like the Houthis, who retain control of most of the territory in Yemen, despite years of fighting with supporters of the ousted government, which has Saudi Arabia's backing.