After the United States was quick to point the finger at Iran for the early Saturday explosions that rocked Abqaiq facility and the Khurais field — forcing production to be shut and with it 5.7 million barrels a day of oil production lost — Iran has warned it stands ready for a "full-fledged" war.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi slammed Washington for a "maximum pressure" strategy that has turned to "maximum lies," saying that because of the former's "failure [the US] is leaning toward maximum lies". FM Javad Zarif also said these were a continuation of efforts to pressure and shame into compliance under US hegemony.
Iran denied the accusations, which followed photos circulating online which appeared to show cruise missile debris scattered in the Saudi desert outside the incapacitated oil facilities. Yemen's Houthi forces had claimed responsibility, saying it deployed ten drones in the successful targeting of the facilities.
And separately an IRGC commander is reported to have reaffirmed that American military bases and aircraft carriers are crucially up to 2,000km around Iran and thus "within range" of Iranian missiles.
The senior commander, Amirali Hajizadeh, said his country stands ready for a "full-fledged" war but he stopped short of directly mentioning the attacks. As quoted in regional and state media:
On Sunday, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Aerospace Force, Amir Ali Hajizadeh, was quoted by the semi-official Tasnim news agency as saying: “Everybody should know that all American bases and their aircraft carriers in a distance of up to 2,000 kilometers around Iran are within the range of our missiles,” according to Reuters.
“Iran has always been ready for a ‘full-fledged’ war,” Hajizadeh added, without directly mentioning the attacks in Saudi Arabia.
Photos of parts resembling pieces of cruise missiles seen outside attacked Saudi oil facility have been circulating, with a number of analysts saying it's 'proof' Iran was behind it:
Well well well... pic.twitter.com/bPgY6J67JE— محمد بن خالد (@MbKS15) September 14, 2019
Soon after the raging fires at the key oil facilities grabbed headlines early Saturday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran was likely behind the "unprecedented" attack, writing on Twitter: "Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while [Iran's president and foreign minister] 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," he added.
He asserted, but without offering evidence, “there is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.”
The explosions at the Aramco oil fields in Saudi Arabia are looking bad. It’s hard to see anything else but retaliation and escalation against the Houthis and Iran. pic.twitter.com/gvbJ3sW5Mw— Oscar Jonsson (@OAJonsson) September 14, 2019
Iranian FM Zarif hit back, pointing to the American military's deep involvement in Yemen: "US & its clients are stuck in Yemen because of illusion that weapon superiority will lead to military victory," he said "Blaming Iran won't end disaster. Accepting our April '15 proposal to end war & begin talks may."
Despite Saudi officials and media claiming just hours after the attacks that fires were "under control" widely circulating photographs appeared to show the opposite:
It is NOT under control, as the BBC claims.— Brasco_Aad (@Brasco_Aad) September 14, 2019
Fresh pics via Snap. pic.twitter.com/wLOiGDzps6
In spite of the Houthis claiming responsibility, a US-Saudi led investigation is apparently already focused on pinning blame on Tehran for a direct missile attack.
An investigation is also reportedly focused on questions over whether Iranian proxies may have launched missiles from Iraqi soil, as a WSJ report details, citing the US investigation underway:
Saudi and American officials are investigating the possibility that attacks on Saudi oil facilities Saturday involved cruise missiles launched from Iraq or Iran, questioning Yemeni rebel claims of responsibility, people familiar with the matter said.
•SAUDI INFORMS IRAQ ITS IS DEPLOYING AIR DEFENSE TO THE BORDERS— Firas Maksad (@FirasMaksad) July 2, 2019
•Move follows US reports that May attack on Saudi oil pipeline was from Iraq
•Iraq PM announced nominal merger of pro- Iran militias into military yesterday following call with Saudi kinghttps://t.co/4Ql89eSocp pic.twitter.com/eHlefOSqWu
Meanwhile, the world waits for a potential shock in energy prices as markets open at the start of this week.