Pompeo warns of ‘new turmoil’ if U.N. arms embargo on Iran lifted in 2020
Robie de Guzman • August 21, 2019 • 249
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushed the international community on Tuesday (August 20) to work out how to stop Iran from being “unshackled to create new turmoil” when a United Nations arms embargo on the country and a travel ban on the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force expire in October 2020.
Speaking at a U.N. Security Council meeting on Middle East peace and security challenges, Pompeo called for greater cooperation in the region to produce “fresh thinking to solve old problems,” citing problems including the Libyan and Syrian conflicts and a rift between several Gulf states and Qatar.
He also singled out Iran.
Tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen since U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration last year quit an international deal to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions and began to ratchet up sanctions.
“Since the U.S. declared our intention to bring all Iranian oil purchases to zero in April, the Ayatollah has gone all in on a campaign of extortion diplomacy,” he said, calling out Iran for breaching caps imposed by the 2015 nuclear deal, test-firing a ballistic missile and seizing tankers in the Strait of Hormuz.
Under the Iran nuclear deal, a U.N. arms embargo on the country and a travel ban on Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani are due to expire next year. The Quds Force is the overseas arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).
Pompeo said the U.S. State Department had put a clock on its website that was counting down to the removal of the measures.
“The international community will have plenty of time to see how long it has until Iran is unshackled to create new turmoil, and figure out what it must do to prevent this from happening,” he said.
The council has not, and is unlikely to take any action on Iran. European powers have been scrambling to salvage the nuclear deal, while diplomats say Russia and China – which are council veto powers along with the United States, France and Britain – are likely to shield Iran from any action. (Reuters)
An attack on Saudi Arabia’s Aramco oil facilities was a reciprocal measure by “Yemeni people” to assaults on this country, said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday (September 16), hours after a Saudi-led coalition said the attacks were carried out with Iranian weapons.
Speaking at a news conference in Ankara, Rouhani said Yemeni people “exercised their legitimate right to defense”.
The Iran-aligned Houthi group that controls Yemen’s capital claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack, which knocked out more than half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production and damaged the world’s biggest crude processing plant.
Speaking at the same news conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow was ready to help Saudi Arabia following attacks on the Saudi oil industry if needed.
These Russian weapons would protect any infrastructure facilities of Saudi Arabia, he added. (REUTERS)
U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday (September 16) said it looked like Iran was behind attacks on oil plants in Saudi Arabia at the weekend that raised fears of a fresh Middle East conflict, but added that he did not want war with anyone.
Iran has rejected U.S. charges it was to blame for the attacks which damaged the world’s biggest crude processing plant in Saudi Arabia and triggered the largest jump in crude prices in decades.
Several U.S. cabinet officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, have blamed Tehran for the strikes.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani saying the strikes were carried out by “Yemeni people” retaliating for attacks by a Saudi-led military coalition in a war with Yemen’s Houthi movement.
Asked by a reporter in the White House if Iran was behind the attacks, Trump said: “It’s certainly looking that way at this moment and we’ll let you know. As soon as we find out definitively we’ll let you know but it does look that way.”
The attacks cut 5% of world crude oil production.
Two sources briefed on state oil company Saudi Aramco’s operations told Reuters it might take months for Saudi oil production to return to normal. Earlier estimates had suggested it could take weeks.
Tension in the oil-producing Gulf region has dramatically escalated this year after Trump imposed severe U.S. sanctions on Iran aimed at halting its oil exports altogether.
The U.S. leader said he did not want to act hastily.
“We have a lot of options but I’m not looking at options right now we want to find definitively who did this. We’re dealing with Saudi Arabia. We’re dealing with the crown prince and other of your neighbors. And we’re all talking about it together. We’ll see what happens,” he said.
Trump downplayed the impact of a spike in oil prices in the wake of the attacks on Saudi oil plants, saying prices had not risen much and that the United States and other countries could offset the increase by releasing more supply.
“They haven’t risen very much and we have the strategic oil reserves, which are massive, and we can release a little bit of that, and other countries … can be a little bit more generous with the oil, and you’d bring it right down,” Trump told reporters at the White House as he met with Bahrain Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa. (REUTERS)
Saudi-led coalition said on Monday that investigations indicated that the weapons used in the two Saudi Aramco attacks are Iranian.
Saudi Arabian oil facilities were attacked on Saturday.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying the drones targeted the state-owned Saudi Aramco oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais.
Saudi energy minister announced on Sunday that the attacks led to the interruption of a number of crude oil supplies estimated at 5.7 million barrels, or about 50 percent of the company’s production.
“Initial investigation indicates that the weapons used in the attack are Iranian. The results of the investigation would be immediately made public once they are complete. The drones did not, like what the Houthis claimed, take off from Yemen. The Houthis is merely a tool in the hands of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, it is what they use to realize their goal and agenda in the region,” said the coalition spokesman Turki Al Maliki.
According to reports of the Israeli news agency Walla, a senior U.S. government official told the U.S. network ABC that Iran launched nearly 12 cruise missiles and more than 20 drones from its territory in the attack on Saudi oil facilities.
Maliki did not respond directly to such a statement but stressed that the coalition has the ability to confront the attacks and defend vital oil facilities.
He added that such attacks not only affect the economy of Saudi Arabia but will also pose a threat to regional stability, even the safety of global energy. Maliki called on the international community to take action to ensure the safety of regional oil production and transportation.
Saudi Arabia has been targeted in the past years with drone and missile attacks by Houthi militia. Most of those attacks were foiled before reaching their target, while some succeeded in causing limited fires in oil facilities without affecting the oil production of the kingdom. (REUTERS)
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