September 18, 2019 U.S. President Donald Trump announced plans for “substantial new sanctions” against Iran on Wednesday, just days after attacks on Saudi Arabia’s biggest oil refineries.
Simultaneous drone and missile attacks early Saturday morning crippled almost half of Saudi Arabia’s oil capacity. Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said the Kingdom would aim to ramp up oil and gas production as fast as possible.
Trump said in a tweet Wednesday morning:
“I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!”
Earlier on Wednesday, Iran’s state run news agency reported that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is warning the United States of “immediate” retaliation if Tehran is targeted over the weekend attack on the Saudi oil fields.
Market analysts said Monday President Trump’s statements on Twitter that the U.S. is “locked and loaded” to retaliate against those responsible for the attack on one of the world’s largest oil fields is adding to the dramatic climb in oil prices.
The unprecedented drone attacks targeting the world’s largest oil processing plant Saturday morning were a dramatic escalation in the confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia — no matter who is responsible for the attack. The massive attacks underscore the asymmetric threat posed by drones.
The coordinated attacks on key Saudi Arabian oil facilities briefly disrupted about half of the kingdom’s oil capacity, or 5% of the daily global oil supply.
WHO IS BEHIND SAUDI ATTACKS?
Houthi rebels in Yemen, a terrorist group allied with Iran claimed responsibility for the attacks, and said drones and missiles targeted oil installations in Abqaiq and Khurais.
Saudi Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Col. Turki al Malki is expected to hold a press conference later Wednesday to show “strong evidence” that Iran is behind the attacks.
While others in the administration have blamed Iran for Saturday’s attacks, President Trump has stopped short of doing so. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo almost immediately discounted the Houthi rebels claims, blaming Iran for the attacks via Twitter. Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif responded to the allegations in his own tweet.
“Having failed at ‘max pressure’, @SecPompeo’s turning to ‘max deceit’ US & its clients are stuck in Yemen because of illusion that weapon superiority will lead to military victory. Blaming Iran won’t end disaster.”
DRONES—Cheap and Effective
A Wall Street Journal report in May highlighted the evolving threat of cheap unmanned drones packed with explosives in the ongoing civil war in Yemen.
Steve Ganyard, a retired Colonel in the United State Marine Corps and ABC News contributor said on Sunday drones are a very difficult asymmetric threat. Drones are hard to attack.
“These 10-20 thousand dollar drones are defeating air defense systems that cost hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Ganyard added that the United States military is just rolling out the capabilities to take down these drones.
Since 2014, the Islamic State or ISIS has successfully employed drones to carry out attacks in Iraq and Syria. In August, the Israeli military carried out an air strike to thwart a “very imminent” Iranian drone strike.