Iran's foreign minister warned of 'all-out war' if US launches a military response to Saudi oil attack

Business Insider Politics 2 months ago

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif raised the prospect of "all out war" amid escalating tensions between the US and Iran over an attack on Saudi oil fields which Iran denies involvement in.

Asked by CNN's Nick Paton Walsh what Iran's response would be in the event of a military response by the US or Saudi Arabia, Zarif replied: "An all-out war."

"I make a very serious statement about defending our country. I am making a very serious statement that we don't want to engage in a military confrontation ... but we won't blink to defend our territory," Zarif said in an interview with CNN published Thursday.

A military response against Iran for the attacks on the oilfields, he warned, would cause "a lot of casualties," adding that Iran would fight "to the last American soldier."

On Saturday attacks devastated two major oil fields in eastern Saudi Arabia, triggering the largest-ever disruption to global oil supply and sending the price of oil up by 20%.

Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility for the attack, claiming they launched it using a fleet of drones.

Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday the strikes were "unquestionably sponsored by Iran."

Pompeo MBS
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo takes part in a meeting with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on September 18, 2019.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blamed the Iranian government for the attacks, and described them as an "act of war" during a visit to the kingdom Wednesday.

"The Saudis were the nation that was attacked. It was on their soil. It was an act of war against them directly," he told reporters.

Iran has denied any involvement in the attacks, and Zarif pointed to the Houthis as the source of the attack.

"I cannot have any confidence that they did it because we just heard their statement," he said. "I know that we didn't do it. I know that the Houthis made a statement that they did it.

In the interview with CNN, Zarif also reiterated Tehran's insistence that it is not willing to negotiate with the US unless sanctions imposed by the Trump administration are lifted.

He said the Obama-era nuclear deal which Trump pulled the US out of is "an agreement that we reached with the United States.

"Why should we renegotiate? Why should we start something else which may again be invalid in a year and a half."

"If they lift the sanctions that they re-imposed illegally then that's a different situation," he added. "Then we would consider [talks]."

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