Pompeo blames Iran for Saudi oil attacks

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blamed Iran for the attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil refineries.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blamed Iran for the attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil refineries.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused Iran of attacking Saudi oil plants, as he ruled out Yemeni involvement and said Tehran was engaging in false diplomacy.

"Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while Rouhani and Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy," Pompeo said in a Twitter post, referring to Iran's president and foreign minister. "Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply."

The White House said on Saturday the United States was committed to keeping oil markets well-supplied following the attack on Saudi Arabian oil processing plants by the Iran-aligned Houthi group.

"The United States strongly condemns today's attack on critical energy infrastructure," White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement. "Violent actions against civilian areas and infrastructure vital to the global economy only deepen conflict and mistrust."

Deere confirmed that US President Donald Trump had spoken earlier on Saturday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

It comes as Iran said it will adopt a policy of maximum crude production if the US lifts sanctions on the country's oil industry.

"Maximum production would be the Iranian ministry of petroleum's policy in case (U.S.) sanctions are eased on Iran's oil industry," the ministry's official news website SHANA quoted Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh as saying.

Since exiting from Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers last year, Trump has reimposed sanctions on Iran. He has also introduced other limitations, including threats of sanctions against any country importing oil from Iran, causing a more than 80 per cent drop in the OPEC member's oil exports.

"Our oil industry is alive, it is active. The US sanctions cannot stop Iran's oil exports," Zanganeh said.

Trump has pursued a policy of "maximum pressure" on Iran to try to force it into broader talks to restrict its ballistic missile program and end its support for proxy forces around the Middle East.

But Iran has ruled out talks until all sanctions imposed on it are lifted. European parties to the deal have struggled to calm the deepening confrontation between Iran and the US.

Australian Associated Press