Pompeo Labels Iran’s Attacks On Saudi Oil Facilities an ‘Act of War’

CIA Director-designate Rep. Michael Pompeo testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday decried the weekend attacks on the Saudi oil industry as an “act of war” as President Trump ordered a substantial increase in sanctions against Iran, which Washington has linked to the strikes.

Amid the escalating tensions in the region, Saudi Arabia on Wednesday presented remnants of what it said were Iranian-made weapons used in the attacks on two key oil facilities. Meanwhile, Iran warned the United States that it would broadly retaliate against any attacks on it, Iranian news agencies reported.

“I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!” Trump wrote in a morning tweet, without elaboration.

He later told reporters traveling with him in California that “very significant” sanctions would be announced “over the next 48 hours.”

Asked whether he is also looking at a military strike, Trump said, “We’ll see what happens. We have many options that we’re considering. There are many options.”

“There’s the ultimate options, and there are options that are a lot less than that,” he added, later clarifying that he was not referring to nuclear war.

Trump demurred when asked whether he agreed with Pompeo that the attacks in Saudi Arabia constituted an act of war.

“He spoke to me a little while ago, and we’ll have an announcement,” Trump said.

His comments came after Pompeo arrived in Saudi Arabia, where he is set to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Iran’s warning, sent via the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which handles U.S. affairs in the country, condemned earlier remarks by Pompeo and other officials linking Iran to the attacks.

“Iran’s response will be prompt and strong, and it may include broader areas than the source of attacks,” the Mehr News Agency reported the official note as saying.

Iran’s Fars News Agency said any response would be “rapid and crushing” and would target “more extensive areas than the origin of the attack.” There have long been fears that Iranian proxy forces in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere might attack U.S. forces in the region.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post, John Wagner, Kareem Fahim, Paul Schemm