It feels like ages ago, but will no doubt become front and center the next time Washington inches toward war with Iran as happened last January in the wake of the Qassem Soleimani assassination.
The contents of a high level United Nations investigative report was leaked days ago, which details that last year's (Sept. 14) major attack on Saudi Aramco facilities in the country's east included missiles of “Iranian origin”.
Tehran officials promptly slammed the report as only too "convenient" given it curiously comes at a sensitive and crucial moment “when the United States is working to draft a dangerous resolution to extend an arms embargo against Iran,” according to an official Iranian statement.
And yet UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' statements the Security Council still made some interesting qualifications which brings Washington's "Iran ordered the attack" narrative into question:
Some have design characteristics similar to those also produced by a commercial entity in Iran, or bear Farsi markings, Guterres said, and some were delivered to the country between February 2016 and April 2018.
He said that “these items may have been transferred in a manner inconsistent” with a 2015 Security Council resolution that enshrines Tehran’s deal with world powers to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons.
Iran slammed the UN findings as ultimately put together “under political pressure from the U.S. and Saudi regimes,” according to Iran's rebuttal by the foreign ministry.
Last week Iran began urging Russia and China to reject US efforts at persuading the Security Council to extend a UN arms embargo set to expire in October.
The end of the embargo had been negotiated as part of the 2015 nuclear deal (JCOPA), which the Trump administration has since pulled out of.
Recall that when the September 2019 attacks likely out of Yemen temporarily halted Saudi oil output in a major jolt to global markets, the US had laid immediate blame on Tehran. After Yemen's Shia Houthi rebels took responsibility, Western pundits focused on the fact they are "Iran-backed" - and concluded such a massive operation came under the direction of the IRGC.
"Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy. Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at the time. "There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen."