FO condemns attacks on Saudi oil installations


Tensions have been rising in the Gulf since the USA stopped granting waivers to buyers of Iranian oil and slapped crippling sanctions on the Islamic Republic after President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he hoped the U.S. was not heading to war with Iran as he met with Switzerland President Ueli Maurer, whose nation has served as a diplomatic conduit between the two countries.

The attack "proves that these militias are merely a tool that Iran's regime uses to implement its expansionist agenda", tweeted Prince Khalid bin Salman, a son of King Salman.

"We believe that escalation by the United States is unacceptable and uncalled for".

"The recent attacks on oil tankers and oil pipelines were aimed at subverting the world economy by hitting directly at the lifeline of today's world of commerce".

"We have optional volumes (over and above the term contracts) from a number of suppliers which we can exercise to make up for any shortfall from Iran", Singh said.

The ministry said 41 people, including two women of Russian nationality, were also wounded.

A coalition statement carried by Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV, said the Sunni Muslim alliance struck military bases and facilities and weapons storage sites with the aim of "neutralising the ability of the Houthi militia to carry out acts of aggression".

Saudi Arabia has been at war with the Houthis since 2015, leading a mostly Arab coalition that's launching near-daily airstrikes in support of the internationally recognized Yemeni government.

Yemen's Houthis claimed responsibility for the pipeline attacks and said they were a response to "crimes" committed by Saudi Arabia and its allies, who have been battling the rebels for more than four years.

Anwar Gargash, the minister of foreign affairs for the United Arab Emirates, told reporters in Dubai that the Saudi-led coalition will "retaliate hard" for attacks on civilian targets, without elaborating.

Attacks on the ships have further raised tension in the region.

On Wednesday, the United States ordered all non-emergency staff to leave its embassy in Baghdad and consulate in Arbil, northern Iraq, after accusing the Islamic republic of planning "imminent" attacks in the region. Iraq is home to powerful pro-Iranian militias, while also hosting more than 5,000 U.S. troops. The U.S. military's Central Command said without elaborating that its troops were on high alert.

A spokesman for the Iranian Mission to the United Nations insisted Thursday that Tehran poses no threat and has no intention of attacking U.S. assets.

But a senior British officer in the US-backed coalition fighting the Islamic State group appeared to push back against the USA claims, telling reporters earlier in the week that there'd been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria. Maj.

Tehran is threatening to resume higher enrichment on July 7 if no new nuclear deal is in place, beyond the 3.67% permitted by the current deal between Tehran and world powers. The United States, which imposed new sanctions on Iran in November, initially gave Indian and seven other buyers a six-month waiver to allow them to continue importing Iranian oil.

Though Iran maintains its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, scientists say the time needed to reach the 90% threshold for weapons-grade uranium is halved once uranium is enriched to around 20%.