US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced strikes on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure as an “act of war” Wednesday, as Riyadh unveiled new evidence it said showed the assault was “unquestionably” sponsored by arch-foe Iran.
The comments raise the risk of a wider conflict in the tinderbox Gulf region after the weekend strikes on the heart of the kingdom’s oil industry knocked out half its production.
“This was an Iranian attack,” Pompeo told reporters on his plane before landing in the western city of Jeddah, calling it “an act of war”.
His comment came as Saudi Arabia displayed what it said were fragments of 25 drones and cruise missiles fired at two facilities in the country’s east, leaving them engulfed in flames.
Pompeo said there was no evidence the attacks had been launched from Iraq — caught between its two main sponsors, Tehran and Washington — amid media speculation this was the case.
Diplomats at the United Nations said experts were expected in the kingdom to lead an international inquiry.
Pompeo, who has directly blamed Iran for the strikes, was due to hold talks Wednesday with Saudi leadership as he arrived in Jeddah to weigh with the US ally a response to the strike that roiled global energy markets.
President Donald Trump — who has already re-imposed sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy — Wednesday promised to “substantially increase” the measures, winning quick praise from Riyadh.
Oil prices have see-sawed since the attacks, with record gains Monday followed by a tumble Tuesday as the Saudi assurances on supply soothed the markets.