One day after President Trump declared the United States is “locked and loaded” with regard to Iran — an apparent threat of military action meant to pressure Tehran into negotiations — Iran’s supreme leader said no, and Trump hesitated.
“There will be no talks with the U.S. at any level,” said Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to Iranian state TV.
There had been speculation that Trump might meet with the Iranian president later this month at the U.N.
Trump said he wants “verification” that Iran launched the weekend strikes on oil and gas facilities in Saudi Arabia. But CBS News reports that has already been accomplished.
“The United States has identified the exact locations in Iran from which a combination of more than 20 drones and cruise missiles were launched against Saudi oil facilities over the weekend,” reports CBS national security correspondent David Martin, citing “a senior U.S. official” as saying “the locations are in southern Iran, at the northern end of the Persian Gulf.”
The weekend attack on a Saudi oil field and the world’s largest crude oil processing plant “knocked out 5.7 million barrels of crude oil production per day, or about 5% of the world’s daily production,” reports the Associated Press.
The damage cause a huge spike in world oil prices on Monday, but by Tuesday the Saudis appeared to be making rapid progress toward restoring most of their production, according to Reuters. That sent oil prices plunging again.
“The kingdom is close to restoring 70% of the 5.7 million barrels per day production lost due to the attacks,” Reuters says, citing “a top Saudi official” briefed on the progress, who added that “state-run Saudi Aramco’s output would be fully back online in the next two to three weeks.” It had been feared that fully repairing the mammoth Abqaiq refinery complex could take months.
Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed to have launched the multi-drone attack, but the Washington Post says U.S. officials “described the attacks as more sophisticated and powerful than anything the rebels could accomplish on their own.”
U.S. investigators are at the attack sites, and the Saudi foreign ministry says U.N. and other international experts have been invited to join the investigation.
“Pentagon officials have urged restraint in any response, arguing against a potentially costly conflict at a time when the U.S. military is seeking to reduce its Middle East footprint,” reports the Post, citing “officials familiar with the conversations.”
Despite Trump’s seeming threats against Iran, he now appears ambivalent about military action and has stopped short of directly accusing Tehran of launching the weekend attack.
But the Iranian leadership made its own position crystal clear on Tuesday, when Khamenei said Tehran would consider negotiations only if the U.S. returns to the nuclear-arms deal Trump cancelled.
“Otherwise, no talks will happen … with the Americans,” he said. “Neither in New York nor anywhere.”