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Westlake Legal Group > fox-news/world/conflicts/iran

Rebecca Grant: After Saudi Arabia is attacked, will US military attack Iran? Here are options

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6086400169001_6086400404001-vs Rebecca Grant: After Saudi Arabia is attacked, will US military attack Iran? Here are options Rebecca Grant fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world fox-news/us/terror/counter-terrorism fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc article 0a3d3b15-5ea1-53e0-bf96-e95d506410bf

Only the Iranians, the world’s worst diplomats, would mastermind a significant attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities just days before the United Nations General Assembly opens.

Yet that’s what all signs point too. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted after the Saturday attack that “Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.”

Iran has the technology to mount such an attack. It has gotten help from Russia and China over the years. And we’ve seen Iran do things like this before.

BEHNAM BEN TALEBLU: ATTACK ON SAUDI OIL FACILITY SHOWS TRUMP WAS RIGHT TO PULL OUT OF IRAN NUKE DEAL

The attack Saturday on the Saudi oil facilities was the second recent strike against the Saudi Aramco oil company. On Aug. 17, 20 drones hit the Shaybah liquid natural gas facility in Saudi Arabia, causing a small fire.

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On Aug. 25, Israel launched a preemptive strike against an Iranian drone base in Syria.

Back in 2017, American F-15 pilots shot down Iranian drones over Syria when the drones tried to bomb U.S. forces working with allies on the ground.

Whatever Iran is up to, the Saudi Aramco strike was a significant escalation. Seventeen points of impact were precisely targeted, U.S. officials said. This surveillance and planning required for this strike were evidence of a whole new level of sophistication.

Oil storage facilities are soft targets. Hit them, spill some fuel, and the result is a really big fire.

Saudi Aramco has been in the oil business for a long time, so pre-surveying the site for target coordinates would not be hard. Still, the accuracy of the strikes suggests advanced help. Russia and China could easily have provided know-how at some point. Or Iran may have used unmanned drones to determine the coordinates.

The Saudi Aramco strike shows Iran can hit other targets throughout the region – directly or by proxy. The Dubai airport, the new nuclear plant under construction in the United Arab Emirates and other Saudi oil infrastructure are all vulnerable to Iran’s drones and cruise missiles.

Right now, the Trump administration is playing it cool. Pompeo and other senior officials are pointing at Iran as being behind the Saturday attack but are keeping American options open. Step 1, of course, is security for our military forces in the region.

U.S. military leaders will certainly review options to strike Iran. That’s their job. Commanders at Central Command must prepare options available to President Trump.

Strikes on a drone base would be one option. So would a limited attack on Iranian oil facilities, like the 1988 strikes by the U.S. Navy on Iranian offshore oil rigs and naval vessels.

Any strike options would be limited and proportional. Most of all, an attack would be carried out only in consultation with Saudi Arabia and other allies – especially Britain, Australia and Bahrain. Those nations are part of Operation Sentinel, the maritime stability force protecting Persian Gulf shipping.

Could the drones and missiles have come from Yemen? Maybe. Iran has been supporting the Houthi rebels in Yemen’s civil war, while a Saudi-led coalition is assisting the government of Yemen.

However, Pompeo’s statement that the attacks did not come from Yemen must be taken seriously. In this case, the U.S., Saudi Arabia and other allies have plenty of “eyes in the skies” watching everything that moves over the Persian Gulf region.

U.S. military leaders will certainly review options to strike Iran. That’s their job.

For example, drones and/or cruise missiles inbound from Iran’s coast to Saudi Aramco’s Abqaiq oil facility in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia could have been seen by military forces.

The Iranian cruise missile specter has worried military planners for quite some time. Novator, the Russian company that made the 9M729 missile that led to the end of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, began marketing the Club-K “cruise missile in a box” several years ago.

This devastating system could hide inside a standard shipping container, giving customers a “long-range precision strike capability to ordinary vehicles that can be moved to almost any place on earth without attracting attention,” venerable Jane’s Defense Weekly reported in 2010.

The point is that Russia, China and others have sold Iran advanced missile technology. And they have been egging Iran on as President Hassan Rouhani plays at nuclear blackmail and refuses to talk.

President Trump need not rush to action. He’s proven to be methodical and cautious with the use of military force. He prefers talks to strikes. A lot hinges on what the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia chooses to do.

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Here in the U.S., the Strategic Petroleum Reserve gives us ample time for Saudi Aramco to repair damage and restore output. The reserve of over 700 million barrels is stored in salt caves in Texas and Louisiana. It was tapped during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and Trump on Sunday authorized the release of oil from the reserve to keep oil markets stable.

To my mind, the pressure is now on the United Nations. The U.N. General Assembly, which opens in New York on Tuesday, needs to address Iran’s behavior.

The U.N., after all, is the big honcho behind the Iran nuclear deal. The U.N. also runs the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has confirmed Iran’s nuclear violations.

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The world body shouldn’t focus only on climate change and sustainable development and shirk its core mission of conflict resolution. It will lose a lot of credibility if it can’t deal more effectively with Iran.

One thing is for certain: Iran must never acquire a nuclear weapon.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE BY REBECCA GRANT

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6086400169001_6086400404001-vs Rebecca Grant: After Saudi Arabia is attacked, will US military attack Iran? Here are options Rebecca Grant fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world fox-news/us/terror/counter-terrorism fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc article 0a3d3b15-5ea1-53e0-bf96-e95d506410bf   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6086400169001_6086400404001-vs Rebecca Grant: After Saudi Arabia is attacked, will US military attack Iran? Here are options Rebecca Grant fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world fox-news/us/terror/counter-terrorism fox-news/us/military fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc article 0a3d3b15-5ea1-53e0-bf96-e95d506410bf

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Behnam Ben Taleblu: Attack on Saudi oil facility shows Trump was right to pull out of Iran nuke deal

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6086457485001_6086452566001-vs Behnam Ben Taleblu: Attack on Saudi oil facility shows Trump was right to pull out of Iran nuke deal fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world fox-news/us/military fox-news/us/energy fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox-news/columns/counterpoints fox news fnc/opinion fnc c56575f8-5887-55d0-bea0-6d164f098ef6 Behnam Ben Taleblu article

The devastating attack Saturday against a major oil facility in Saudi Arabia dramatically illustrates why the Iran nuclear deal that was accepted by the Obama administration and rejected by President Trump failed to end the Iranian threat to peace and stability in the Middle East.

While the nuclear deal put temporary restrictions on the Iranian nuclear program, it did absolutely nothing to stop Iran’s aggressive conventional and asymmetric military actions against its neighbors and threats against Israel. This is partly why President Trump ultimately withdrew from this deeply flawed agreement.

In fact, the nuclear deal aided Iranian military aggression and support of terrorist groups by lifting international economic sanctions against Iran and freeing up Iranian funds frozen by foreign banks. Iran has supported several terrorist groups in the region, including Houthi rebels in Yemen, Hezbollah based in Lebanon, the Palestinian group Hamas that rules the Gaza Strip, and the brutal regime of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.

TRUMP: US ‘LOCKED AND LOADED’ AGAINST ATTACKERS OF SAUDI OIL FACILITY ‘DEPENDING ON VERIFICATION’

The attack Saturday on Saudi oil facilities – which temporarily cut Saudi oil production in half – was carried out by either drones or cruise missiles (or a combination of the two), according to news reports. About 5.7 million barrels of crude oil production were interrupted by the Saturday attack, amounting to more than 5 percent of the world’s daily oil supply.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a tweet Saturday that “Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia … Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.”

And President Trump tweeted Sunday night: “Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!”

The president notably refrained from saying who the U.S. government believes is responsible for the attack on Saudi Arabia, but U.S. officials previously pointed to Iran.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is playing a game of three-dimensional chess against the U.S. and its regional partners – a game aiming to induce weakness and irresolution in the face of the Iranian challenge.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels are claiming credit for the strike against the Saudi oil facilities. However, satellite photos released by the U.S. government showed at least “17 points of impact” that officials said indicated the attack came from the direction of Iran or Iraq rather than the Houthi’s home base of Yemen.

Iranian officials denied their government was responsible for the strikes against Saudi Arabia.

In late 2014, the Houthis burst forth from their stronghold in northern Yemen, conquered the capital city of Sanaa, and plunged the Arab world’s poorest country into deep chaos. Since then, humanitarian suffering caused by the Houthi insurgency has mushroomed across the nation on a medieval scale.

Since 2015, Saudi Arabia has led a multinational military coalition to restore the U.N.-backed government in Yemen. The Saudis prosecution of the war has made their nation the primary target of international criticism – even as Saudi bases, cities, airports and oil installations come under attack from Houthi rockets, missiles and drones.

Other foreign belligerents have mostly escaped blame.

Iran’s involvement in Yemen is more nefarious. Tehran seeks to co-opt the Houthi insurgency into a tool with which to bleed and bludgeon its regional rival, Saudi Arabia. This competition between Iran and Saudi Arabia is a struggle for both the sacred and profane: for leadership of the Muslim world, for individual Muslim hearts and minds, for the Middle East regional balance, and for oil.

Iran has provided the Houthis with anti-tank missiles, ballistic missiles of varying ranges, cruise missiles, and suicide drones – which can function as cruise missiles. As a result, Iran has been able to grow the long-arm of Houthi military capabilities, and at a low cost to Iran.

Iranian-supplied weapons allow the Houthi insurgents to strike at the Saudi heartland from a distance and respond to battlefield developments at a time and place of their own choosing.

In additions to the tweets from Pompeo and Trump,

There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.elsewhere on Twitter, there has been increased chatter about, and even video alleging, that the strikes on Saudi Arabia originated in Iraq. If that were the case, Iran-backed Shiite militias in Iraq, which are part of Tehran’s broad proxy network across the Middle East, would be to blame rather than the Houthis.

Should the thesis of Iraqi involvement hold, it would be a measure of the Houthis’ deference to Iran that they claimed credit for an attack they did not carry out.

It would also be an indicator of Tehran’s tolerance for risk and retaliation in places like Yemen – which is far away, unlike Iraq, which is right next door to Iran.

Conversely, should Iran have launched cruise missiles from its own territory – which is less likely – it would mean Tehran is confident that its adversaries would not respond using military force against the origin of the strikes.

While Iran is known as a ballistic missile powerhouse in the region, copies of its cruise missiles are increasingly winding up in the hands of terrorist groups, be they anti-ship variants with Hezbollah in Lebanon or land-attack cruise missiles with the Houthis in Yemen.

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Either way, the launching of cruise missiles and/or drones at a vital artery of the international economy conveys a broader strategic point: Iran’s threats to oil shipping are not limited to the Strait of Hormuz, where over one-fifth of seaborne traded oil passes daily. This signifies that the regime is comfortable broadening the scope of its harassment from oil tankers at sea to oil installations on land. Consider this an attempt to make good on old threats.

With the blaze of Saudi oil facilities in hindsight, the priority for Washington should not be to covet a high-level meeting with the Islamic Republic on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City in coming days. It must be how better to contest Iran’s asymmetric military capabilities, as well as those of its proxies and partners in the region.

Since May, Washington has been hardening and growing its military footprint in the region through enhanced deployments. This process, as well as tough sanctions, should continue.

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Slowing economic pressure, recalling assets – or worse, talking to Tehran only about the nuclear issue – would replicate the mistakes that got the U.S. into the flawed 2015 nuclear deal, which in turn underwrote the expansion of Iran’s regional threat network.

The Trump administration should not make the same mistake as the Obama administration, and should instead continue to hold Iran accountable for its latest hostile actions.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE BY BEHNAM BEN TALEBLU

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6086457485001_6086452566001-vs Behnam Ben Taleblu: Attack on Saudi oil facility shows Trump was right to pull out of Iran nuke deal fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world fox-news/us/military fox-news/us/energy fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox-news/columns/counterpoints fox news fnc/opinion fnc c56575f8-5887-55d0-bea0-6d164f098ef6 Behnam Ben Taleblu article   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6086457485001_6086452566001-vs Behnam Ben Taleblu: Attack on Saudi oil facility shows Trump was right to pull out of Iran nuke deal fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/terrorism fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world fox-news/us/military fox-news/us/energy fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/opinion fox-news/columns/counterpoints fox news fnc/opinion fnc c56575f8-5887-55d0-bea0-6d164f098ef6 Behnam Ben Taleblu article

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Trump: US ‘locked and loaded’ against attackers of Saudi oil facility ‘depending on verification’

President Trump on Sunday suggested U.S. investigators had “reason to believe” they knew who launched crippling attacks against a key Saudi oil facility, and vowed that America was “locked and loaded depending on verification.”

While he did not specify who he believed was responsible for Saturday’s drone attacks, U.S. investigators previously have pointed the finger at Iran.

“Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!” the president tweeted.

Earlier Sunday, Trump authorized the use of emergency oil reserves in Texas and other states after Saudi oil processing facilities were attacked, sparking fears of a spike in oil prices when markets reopen Monday.

The president wrote that he had authorized the release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, “in a to-be-determined amount sufficient to keep the markets well-supplied.”

He continued, “I have also informed all appropriate agencies to expedite approvals of the oil pipelines currently in the permitting process in Texas and various other States.”

The Saudi oil sites attacked on Saturday, in a drone assault linked to Iran, interrupted about 5.7 million barrels of crude oil production, over 5 percent of the world’s daily supply.

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility, but the U.S. has accused Iran of launching the assault. Tehran has denied any involvement, calling the accusations “maximum lies.”

Westlake Legal Group AP19258155738443 Trump: US 'locked and loaded' against attackers of Saudi oil facility 'depending on verification' fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc Bradford Betz article 121c2084-0c20-5890-9976-90412dea68bc

This Saturday satellite image showed thick black smoke rising from Saudi Aramco’s Abqaiq oil processing facility in Buqyaq, Saudi Arabia.  (Planet Labs Inc via AP)

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve, located in Texas and Louisiana, is the largest government-owned stockpile of emergency crude oil in the world, according to the Department of Energy, which manages the supply.

The emergency reserve was created in the mid-1970s amid rising gasoline prices sparked by the Arab oil embargo. Per U.S. law, presidents may authorize the use of the reserves if a major disruption threatens the economy.

DEFIANT IRAN BLASTS POMPEO’S SAUDI-ATTACK ACCUSATIONS AS ‘BLIND AND FUTILE COMMENTS’

The federally owned petroleum reserve of hundreds of millions of barrels of crude oil has been tapped only three times, most recently in 2011 amid unrest in Libya.

“This president and his national security team, Secretary (of State Mike) Pompeo – our nation’s chief diplomat – keep many options on the table, particularly when it comes to retaliating against malign behavior, and protecting American interests and Americans and our American economy,” said Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, on “Fox News Sunday.”

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Saturday’s attack made no immediate impact on global oil prices since as markets were closed for the weekend, yet some analysts have cautioned that oil prices could spike when markets reopen on Monday.

Fox News’ Bill Hemmer, Stephen Sorace and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group AP19258155738443 Trump: US 'locked and loaded' against attackers of Saudi oil facility 'depending on verification' fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc Bradford Betz article 121c2084-0c20-5890-9976-90412dea68bc   Westlake Legal Group AP19258155738443 Trump: US 'locked and loaded' against attackers of Saudi oil facility 'depending on verification' fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/executive/white-house fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/politics fnc Bradford Betz article 121c2084-0c20-5890-9976-90412dea68bc

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Damage from Iran-linked drone attack on Saudi oil facility captured in satellite images

Saudi oil sites attacked on Saturday — in a drone assault linked to Iran — were seen to have sustained damage after satellite images released Sunday captured char marks and smoke billowing from the world’s largest oil processing facility.

The weekend attack ignited huge fires at Saudi Aramco’s Abqaiq oil processing facility and interrupted about 5.7 million barrels of crude oil production — over 5 percent of the world’s daily supply.

DEFIANT IRAN BLASTS POMPEO’S SAUDI-ATTACK ACCUSATIONS AS ‘BLIND AND FUTILE COMMENTS’

U.S. satellite images appeared to show approximately 17 points of impact on key infrastructure at the site after the attack.

Westlake Legal Group Saudi-Refinery-Attacks_Commercial-Public-Diplomacy-1 Damage from Iran-linked drone attack on Saudi oil facility captured in satellite images Stephen Sorace fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox news fnc/world fnc article 597712bb-9377-5381-a04d-8807e2da1040

U.S. satellite imagery showing about 17 points of impact on key infrastructure. (US official)

While Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels have since claimed responsibility for the attack, the U.S. has accused Iran of launching the assault. Tehran has denied the allegations, calling the claims “maximum lies.”

Houthi leader Muhammad al-Bukhaiti reiterated his group’s claim of responsibility, telling The Associated Press on Sunday it exploited “vulnerabilities” in Saudi air defenses to strike the targets. He did not elaborate.

Westlake Legal Group Saudi-Refinery-Attacks_Commercial-Public-Diplomacy-2 Damage from Iran-linked drone attack on Saudi oil facility captured in satellite images Stephen Sorace fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox news fnc/world fnc article 597712bb-9377-5381-a04d-8807e2da1040

The exact extent of the damage from the drone attack wasn’t immediately clear. (US official)

Other images appeared to show black char marks and thick black smoke in an area of the facility.

The Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies in August had identified that region as the plant’s stabilization area. That zone included “storage tanks and processing and compressor trains — which greatly increases the likelihood of a strike successfully disrupting or destroying its operations,” the center wrote at the time.

Westlake Legal Group saudi-oil-attack Damage from Iran-linked drone attack on Saudi oil facility captured in satellite images Stephen Sorace fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox news fnc/world fnc article 597712bb-9377-5381-a04d-8807e2da1040

Thick black smoke rising from Saudi Aramco’s Abqaiq oil processing facility in Buqyaq, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday, captured in a satellite image. (Planet Labs Inc via AP)

Neither Saudi Arabia nor the state-run oil giant Saudi Aramco have said how much damage was done to the facility. Saudi Arabia has promised to fill in the cut in production with its reserves but has not said how long it would take to repair the damage.

POMPEO ACCUSES IRAN OF ‘UNPRECEDENTED ATTACK’ AFTER DRONES HIT SAUDI OIL FACILITIES

There was no immediate impact on global oil prices from the attacks as markets were closed for the weekend, but analysts have anticipated a spike in oil prices when markets reopen Monday.

However, higher oil prices could add to the struggles facing the global economy. The spike in prices could dip the global economy into a recession, limiting any prolonged period of excessive prices as demand rebalances the market, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics.

Westlake Legal Group saudi-oil-attack-2 Damage from Iran-linked drone attack on Saudi oil facility captured in satellite images Stephen Sorace fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox news fnc/world fnc article 597712bb-9377-5381-a04d-8807e2da1040

Black char marks at the center of the facility suggested the attack struck at the heart of the processing facility. (European Commission via AP)

Meanwhile, the attack has ratcheted up the already high Mideast tensions amid escalating U.S.-Iran hostilities as the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, launched during the Obama administration, has continued to unravel.

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“Because of the tension and sensitive situation, our region is like a powder keg,” warned Iran National Guard Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh. “When these contacts come too close, when forces come into contact with one another, it is possible a conflict happens because of a misunderstanding.”

In recent months there’s been a string of mysterious attacks on oil tankers that the U.S. has blamed on Tehran; at least one suspected Israeli strike on Shiite forces in Iraq; and Iran shooting down a U.S. military surveillance drone.

Fox News’ Dom Calicchio, Kevin Corke and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group saudi-oil-attack Damage from Iran-linked drone attack on Saudi oil facility captured in satellite images Stephen Sorace fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox news fnc/world fnc article 597712bb-9377-5381-a04d-8807e2da1040   Westlake Legal Group saudi-oil-attack Damage from Iran-linked drone attack on Saudi oil facility captured in satellite images Stephen Sorace fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox news fnc/world fnc article 597712bb-9377-5381-a04d-8807e2da1040

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Defiant Iran blasts Pompeo’s Saudi-attack accusations as ‘blind and futile comments’

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6086295426001_6086307206001-vs Defiant Iran blasts Pompeo’s Saudi-attack accusations as ‘blind and futile comments’ fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox news fnc/world fnc Dom Calicchio article 756ac75a-3400-561b-a495-d5ec316d79c4

An Iranian official responded Sunday after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pointed at the nation’s government in Tehran following Saturday’s drone attacks on Saudi Arabia oil facilities.

“The Americans adopted the ‘maximum pressure’ policy against Iran, which, due to its failure, is leaning towards ‘maximum lies’,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said, according to the Associated Press.

On Saturday, Pompeo charged that Iran’s government in Tehran ordered “nearly 100 attacks” on a Saudi refinery and oilfield, further alleging that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif pretending “to engage in diplomacy.”

POMPEO ACCUSES IRAN OF ‘UNPRECEDENTED ATTACK’ AFTER DRONES HIT SAUDI OIL FACILITIES

On Sunday, Mousavi dismissed Pompeo’s remarks as “blind and futile comments.”

Saturday’s attacks, for which Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed responsibility, resulted in “the temporary suspension of production operations” at the Abqaiq processing facility and the Khurais oil field, Riyadh said. They followed weeks of similar drone assaults on the kingdom’s oil infrastructure, but none of the earlier strikes appeared to have caused the same amount of damage.

The attacks led to the interruption of an estimated 5.7 million barrels in crude supplies, authorities said, while pledging the kingdom’s stockpiles would make up the difference. That size of shutdown hasn’t occurred since Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, The Wall Street Journal reported.

But Saudi officials told the Journal that normal levels of oil production would resume by Monday.

The rebels hold Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, and other parts of the Arab world’s poorest country. Since 2015, a Saudi-led coalition has fought to reinstate the internationally recognized Yemeni government.

What remained to be seen were the attacks’ effect on world energy prices. With markets closed Sunday, the answer wouldn’t be known for another 24 hours.

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But one undeniable impact was an increase in Middle East tensions amid escalating U.S.-Iran hostilities as the Obama-era nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers continues to unravel.

Meanwhile, President Trump on Saturday called Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to offer his support for the kingdom’s defense, the White House said. The crown prince assured Trump that Saudi Arabia was “willing and able to confront and deal with this terrorist aggression,” according to a news release from the Saudi Embassy in Washington.

​​​​​​​Fox News’ Sam Dorman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6086295426001_6086307206001-vs Defiant Iran blasts Pompeo’s Saudi-attack accusations as ‘blind and futile comments’ fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox news fnc/world fnc Dom Calicchio article 756ac75a-3400-561b-a495-d5ec316d79c4   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6086295426001_6086307206001-vs Defiant Iran blasts Pompeo’s Saudi-attack accusations as ‘blind and futile comments’ fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox news fnc/world fnc Dom Calicchio article 756ac75a-3400-561b-a495-d5ec316d79c4

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Pompeo accuses Iran of ‘unprecedented attack’ after drones hit Saudi oil facilities

Westlake Legal Group aramco-fire-Reuters Pompeo accuses Iran of 'unprecedented attack' after drones hit Saudi oil facilities Sam Dorman fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/state-department fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/secretary-of-state fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox news fnc/politics fnc article 4cebedb0-ad10-5ef3-a962-a8b1f94f33d6

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on the international community to join him Saturday in condemning Iran for drone attacks on two Saudi oil facilities, which he described as “an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.”

“Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia while [President Hassan] Rouhani and [Foreign Minister Mohammad] Zarif pretend to engage in diplomacy,” Pompeo tweeted, referring to the nation’s president and foreign affairs minister. ” … There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.”

Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack hours before Pompeo’s tweet. The world’s largest oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia and a major oil field were impacted, sparking huge fires at a vulnerable chokepoint for global energy supplies.

DRONE STRIKES TARGET WORLD’S LARGEST OIL FIELD PROCESSING FACILITY, SAUDI OIL FIELD; ATTACK CLAIMED BY IRANIAN-BACKED REBELS

“The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression,” Pompeo concluded.

According to multiple news reports that cited unidentified sources, the drone attacks affected up to half of the supplies from the world’s largest exporter of oil, though the output should be restored within days. It remained unclear if anyone was injured at the Abqaiq oil processing facility and the Khurais oil field.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, denounced Pompeo’s description of the attack, calling it an “irresponsible simplification.”

“The Saudis and Houthis are at war. The Saudis attack the Houthis and the Houthis attack back. Iran is backing the Houthis and has been a bad actor, but it’s just not as simple as Houthis=Iran,” he added.

Saturday’s attack comes after weeks of similar drone assaults on the kingdom’s oil infrastructure, but none of the earlier strikes appeared to have caused the same amount of damage. The attack likely will heighten tensions further across the Persian Gulf amid an escalating crisis between the U.S. and Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.

In a short address aired by the Houthi-controlled Al-Masirah satellite news channel, military spokesman Yahia Sarie said the rebels launched 10 drones after receiving “intelligence” support from those inside the kingdom. He warned that attacks by the rebels would only get worse if the war continues.

“The only option for the Saudi government is to stop attacking us,” Sarie said.

The rebels hold Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, and other parts f the Arab world’s poorest country. Since 2015, a Saudi-led coalition has fought to reinstate the internationally recognized Yemeni government.

Martin Griffiths, the United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen, called the strikes “extremely worrying” and urged “all parties to prevent such further incidents, which pose a serious threat to regional security, complicate the already fragile situation and jeopardize [the] UN-led political process.”

Trump called Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the wake of the drone strikes and expressed the United States’ readiness to cooperate with the kingdom in supporting its security and stability, according to a news release from the Saudi Embassy in Washington. Trump said recent attacks against Saudi state-run oil facilities have had a negative impact on the U.S. and global economies.

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The White House readout of the same call said the president spoke to the crown prince to “offer his support for Saudi Arabia’s self-defense.

“The United States strongly condemns today’s attack on critical energy infrastructure,” the White House statement added. “Violent actions against civilian areas and infrastructure vital to the global economy only deepen conflict and mistrust. The United States Government is monitoring the situation and remains committed to ensuring global oil markets are stable and well supplied.”

Fox News’ Jacqui Heinrich and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group aramco-fire-Reuters Pompeo accuses Iran of 'unprecedented attack' after drones hit Saudi oil facilities Sam Dorman fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/state-department fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/secretary-of-state fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox news fnc/politics fnc article 4cebedb0-ad10-5ef3-a962-a8b1f94f33d6   Westlake Legal Group aramco-fire-Reuters Pompeo accuses Iran of 'unprecedented attack' after drones hit Saudi oil facilities Sam Dorman fox-news/world/world-regions/saudi-arabia fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/state-department fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/secretary-of-state fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox news fnc/politics fnc article 4cebedb0-ad10-5ef3-a962-a8b1f94f33d6

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US adversaries laud John Bolton’s White House departure

Both loved and hated in the foreign policy establishment, this week’s sudden ouster of John Bolton as national security adviser is likely to be embraced by America’s adversaries, analysts say.

“Nations such as North Korea, Iran and Venezuela have some short-term reasons to be happy that Bolton is gone,” Harry Kazianis, a national security expert at Washington’s Center for the National Interest, told Fox News. “Clearly, his goal was to see the eventual demise of all of these regimes, or that their economies are so weakened by sanctions that they posse little-to-no threat to U.S. interests. So, at least for the moment, some of the pressure is off.”

The Iranian regime wasted no time in addressing the news, indicating that while his removal was a “sigh of relief” it would not pave the way to direct talks between Washington and Tehran.

“As the world was breathing a sigh of relief over the ouster of #B_Team’s henchman in the White House, Pompeo & Mnuchin declared further escalation of #EconomicTerrorism against Iran,” tweeted Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who was recently personally slapped with U.S. sanctions. “Thirst for war – maximum pressure – should go with the warmonger-in-chief.”

TRUMP OUSTS NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JOHN BOLTON, SAYS THEY ‘DISAGREED STRONGLY’ ON POLICY

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani cautioned the U.S. to first “abandon warmongers and warmongering policies,” according to the country’s Tasnim News Agency. Tehran’s state-operated IRNA news agency, quoting their envoy to the United Nations, said Wednesday that the “departure of U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton from President Donald Trump’s administration will not push Iran to reconsider talking with the U.S.”

However, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in the aftermath of Bolton’s departure, told reporters that he could foresee a meeting between Trump and the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during the United Nations General Assembly this month. Iran’s government spokesperson Ali Rabiei asserted on Twitter that Bolton was perhaps the biggest obstacle to such diplomacy, referring to him as the “biggest proponent of war & economic terrorism.”

Bolton has long taken an aggressive stance against the Islamic Republic. He was a known evangelist for regime change and intervention.

He was also viewed as an obstacle between Trump and his quest to compel North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un to abandon his burgeoning nuclear weapons arsenal. After talks fell apart earlier this year, Pyongyang officials leveled the blame on Bolton and characterized him as “dim-sighted.”

Bolton’s firing – or resignation, as the departed national security advisor describes it – came after the dizzying revelation that Trump had canceled a secret meeting scheduled between himself and Taliban representatives in Camp David this week. Pompeo had been carefully crafting a peace deal with the Afghanistan-based group as a means of the U.S. exiting the 18-year war, while Bolton is reported to have firmly opposed such a diplomatic solution.

LAURA INGRAHAM: JOHN BOLTON WAS ALWAYS A ‘COMPLICATED FIT’ AS TRUMP’S NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER

The ex-NSA’s hawkish stance and seeming appetite for military-centric approaches steadily fell out-of-fashion in the West Wing, experts observed.

“Bolton and Trump were clearly at odds when it comes to the basic formulation of defining U.S. interests,” Kazianis said. “Trump wants a more restrained foreign policy with a focus on old fashioned great power politics, and that means less of a focus on the types of regimes America will negotiate with and more of a pure focus on bettering America’s standing in the world.

“While John Bolton has vast foreign policy experience, his basic vision for America’s role in the world belongs in the history books. We must remember why so many American’s voted for Trump in the first place: to put America’s interests first above all else.”

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-41790097814b4c2ba9e0fa091e245d29 US adversaries laud John Bolton's White House departure Hollie McKay fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/north-korea fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/topic/venezuelan-political-crisis fox-news/politics/foreign-policy fox-news/politics/executive/national-security fox news fnc/world fnc article 4f541056-bbb9-5f76-8d4a-8103e38dd465

In this Feb. 28, 2019 file photo, President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un take a walk after their first meeting at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi hotel, in Hanoi. (AP)

Yet closer to home, in Venezuela, Bolton’s farewell has many in the anti-Maduro camp feeling nervous. Bolton was a chief architect of squeezing the Caracas regime earlier this year. And although his combative strategy has failed to cause Maduro to fall, he was seen by many opposition advocates as a beacon of hope.

“Maduro officials took the news of the firing of John Bolton as a victory for the regime,” Arnaldo Espinoza, the Caracas-based Managing Editor of America Digital, told Fox News. “Economic Vice President, Tareck El Aissami, tweeted that Bolton was the ‘worst liar and the person who has done the most damage to our country. The truth beat out the demons of war.’”

Espinoza said that Venezuelan political analysts are taking a cautious approach, waiting to see who will step next into Bolton’s shoes.

TUCKER HAILS FIRING OF JOHN BOLTON: HE WAS ‘FUNDAMENTALLY A MAN OF THE LEFT’

Furthermore, Bolton was deemed a strongman standing in the way of warmer ties between Russia and the U.S.

The news of his removal also had the Kremlin clapping.

Dmitry Novikov, the first deputy chairman of the Russian State Duma’s committee on international affairs, called the move “positive news,” the Moscow Times reported.

“Perhaps a figure will come who will advocate a more moderate policy toward Russia,” Novikov is said to have postured.

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-c2ba02b93b5d411db1611f46e76c72c8 US adversaries laud John Bolton's White House departure Hollie McKay fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/north-korea fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/topic/venezuelan-political-crisis fox-news/politics/foreign-policy fox-news/politics/executive/national-security fox news fnc/world fnc article 4f541056-bbb9-5f76-8d4a-8103e38dd465

In this May 22, 2018, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump, left, meets with South Korean President Moon Jae-In in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, as national security adviser John Bolton, right, watches. (AP)

But whether this puts the United States in a stronger or more demure diplomatic standing in the world’s eyes remains to be seen.

“His removal is good news for U.S. security,” said Defense Priorities Policy Director, Benjamin Friedman, in a statement. “President Trump has said he wants to end long-running U.S. conflicts abroad, negotiate an end to the nuclear crisis in Iran and North Korea, improve relations with other great powers, and ensure our allies contribute far more to their own defense. The incoming National Security Advisor should be someone who supports these positions and is committed to implementing – rather than thwarting – them.”

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Trump is expected to announce the new NSA next week. The position does not require Senate confirmation.

But even with Bolton out, others say the White House is not likely to follow the same line.

“They (U.S adversaries) won’t be happy once they figure out it is Trump’s foreign policy, and Trump isn’t going to sign up for a bad deal. Don’t expect much change,” said James Carafano, an expert in national security and foreign policy challenges at The Heritage Foundation. “We should expect continued tough stances against Russia, China, Venezuela, and Iran going forward. Trump’s foreign policy is ‘America First.’ While his style is unconventional, his actual policies are not.”

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6085055368001_6085052645001-vs US adversaries laud John Bolton's White House departure Hollie McKay fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/north-korea fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/topic/venezuelan-political-crisis fox-news/politics/foreign-policy fox-news/politics/executive/national-security fox news fnc/world fnc article 4f541056-bbb9-5f76-8d4a-8103e38dd465   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6085055368001_6085052645001-vs US adversaries laud John Bolton's White House departure Hollie McKay fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/north-korea fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/topic/venezuelan-political-crisis fox-news/politics/foreign-policy fox-news/politics/executive/national-security fox news fnc/world fnc article 4f541056-bbb9-5f76-8d4a-8103e38dd465

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Iranian female soccer fan ‘blue girl’ dies after setting herself on fire

An Iranian female soccer fan who faced a potentially lengthy sentence for trying to enter a soccer stadium dressed as a man has died after setting herself on fire a week ago outside a court, a semi-official news agency reported Tuesday.

The woman, Sahar Khodayari, died at a Tehran hospital on Monday, the Shafaghna news agency reported.

The 30-year-old set herself on fire last week after reportedly learning she may face between six months to two years in prison.

Khodayari was arrested back in March while trying to enter a soccer match for her favorite Iranian soccer team, Esteghlal. She was pretending to be a man and wore a blue hairpiece and a long overcoat when the police stopped her.

AIRSTRIKES TARGET IRANIAN BASE IN SYRIA, KILLING AT LEAST 21

Khodayari spent three nights in jail before she was released on bail and waited six months for her court case. When she appeared at court, Khodayari found out her trial had been postponed because the judge had a family emergency, and later overheard someone talking about her possible prison sentence, the BBC reported.

Westlake Legal Group IranSoccer1 Iranian female soccer fan 'blue girl' dies after setting herself on fire Travis Fedschun fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world/conflicts fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/sports fox news fnc/world fnc article 9809cc69-61eb-5605-9d9f-b887bf11618d

In this Oct. 16, 2018 file photo, Iranian women cheer as they wave their country’s flag after authorities in a rare move allowed a select group of women into Azadi stadium to watch a friendly soccer match between Iran and Bolivia, in Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

She then left the courthouse and set herself ablaze in front of the building, and later died at the hospital.

Westlake Legal Group iranbluegirl1 Iranian female soccer fan 'blue girl' dies after setting herself on fire Travis Fedschun fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world/conflicts fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/sports fox news fnc/world fnc article 9809cc69-61eb-5605-9d9f-b887bf11618d

Sahar Khodayari, an Iranian female soccer fan known as “Blue Girl” for the colors supporting of the Esteghlal team, died after setting herself on fire after learning she may serve a six-month prison sentence for trying to enter a soccer stadium where women are banned, a semi-official news agency reported Tuesday. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

Khodayari, who had graduated in computer sciences, was known as the “Blue Girl” on social media for the colors of her favorite Iranian soccer team. Esteghlal issued a statement, offering condolences to Khodayari’s family.

IRAN’S LATEST NUKE DEAL BREACH IS INSTALLATION OF MORE THAN 30 NEW CENTRIFUGES, IAEA SAYS

The tragic death immediately drew an outcry among some soccer stars and known figures in Iran, where women are banned from soccer stadiums, though they are allowed at some other sports, such as volleyball.

Former Bayern Munich midfielder Ali Karimi — who played 127 matches for Iran and has been a vocal advocate of ending the ban on women — urged Iranians in a tweet to boycott soccer stadiums to protest Khodayari’s death.

Iranian-Armenian soccer player Andranik “Ando” Teymourian, the first Christian to be the captain of Iran’s national squad and also an Esteghlal player, said in a tweet that one of Tehran’s major soccer stadiums will be named after Khodayari, “once, in the future.”

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Women in Iran have been banned from going into stadiums to watch men’s sporting events since 1981, according to Human Rights Watch. The stadium ban may is not written into law, but is “ruthlessly enforced”, according to the organization.

Last October, authorities in Iran allowed a select group of women into Azadi stadium to watch a friendly soccer match between Iran and Bolivia, in Tehran, Iran. Iran’s government faced an Aug. 31 dead by Fifa to allow women to attend official football matches in order to “pave the way” for female attendees, the BBC previously reported.

Iran’s minister of information and communications technology, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, described the death of the female soccer fan as a “bitter incident.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group iranbluegirl1 Iranian female soccer fan 'blue girl' dies after setting herself on fire Travis Fedschun fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world/conflicts fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/sports fox news fnc/world fnc article 9809cc69-61eb-5605-9d9f-b887bf11618d   Westlake Legal Group iranbluegirl1 Iranian female soccer fan 'blue girl' dies after setting herself on fire Travis Fedschun fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/world/conflicts fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/sports fox news fnc/world fnc article 9809cc69-61eb-5605-9d9f-b887bf11618d

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Mike Pompeo says key to ‘successful Iran’ is disarming rogue nation, appealing directly to its people

Westlake Legal Group Pompeo-IRG Mike Pompeo says key to 'successful Iran' is disarming rogue nation, appealing directly to its people Nick Givas fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/shows/fox-news-sunday fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/state-department fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/secretary-of-state fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 4ca4462d-3875-5402-a805-b649c20a5808

Following President Trump‘s cancellation of a secret meeting centered on peace talks with Afghan and Taliban leaders, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo turned his focus to Iran during a “Fox News Sunday” interview and shared his thoughts on how the country could become successful and prosperous.

“We want a successful Iran. We want them to be part of the community of nations,” he told host Chris Wallace. “You can’t do that when you’re building missiles that threaten Europe, threaten Israel, and building out systems that could ultimately create a nuclear weapon.”

Pompeo wouldn’t comment on the odds of Trump meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the U.N. General Assembly later this month but said America must speak directly to the Iranian people and help them understand that the U.S. will not allow the country to obtain a nuclear weapon.

PEACE TALKS WITH AFGHANS, TALIBAN CALLED OFF AFTER TRUMP CANCELS SECRET MEETING

“President Trump will think about whether it’s appropriate to meet based on whether he thinks we can get an improved outcome for the American people,” he said. “There are those [in Iran’s government] who think it’s wise to meet. There are those who just want to continue to kill people around the world.

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“We need to make sure that we’re doing all we can to make those that understand that the revolutionary nature of the Iranian regime is unacceptable, that they’ve got to change their behavior, and that America will never permit them to have a nuclear weapon,” Pompeo continued. “Those inside Iran that understand that, and I think that’s the majority of the Iranian people as well — those are the folks we want to make sure we talk to so that we ultimately get the right outcome.”

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Trump left the door open to a possible meeting while speaking with reporters at the White House this past Wednesday, saying America could help lift sanctions and lower Iranian inflation if Tehran was willing to come to the table.

“Their inflation is at a number that few people have ever seen inflation at, and it’s a very sad situation,” Trump said. “They could solve it very quickly. We could solve it in 24 hours, but we’ll see what happens.”

Fox News’ Chris Wallace contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group Pompeo-IRG Mike Pompeo says key to 'successful Iran' is disarming rogue nation, appealing directly to its people Nick Givas fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/shows/fox-news-sunday fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/state-department fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/secretary-of-state fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 4ca4462d-3875-5402-a805-b649c20a5808   Westlake Legal Group Pompeo-IRG Mike Pompeo says key to 'successful Iran' is disarming rogue nation, appealing directly to its people Nick Givas fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/shows/fox-news-sunday fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/state-department fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/secretary-of-state fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/media/fox-news-flash fox-news/media fox news fnc/media fnc article 4ca4462d-3875-5402-a805-b649c20a5808

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Iran threatens higher uranium enrichment as stockpile ‘quickly increasing,’ official says

Westlake Legal Group iran-missle-Getty Iran threatens higher uranium enrichment as stockpile ‘quickly increasing,’ official says Melissa Leon fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/nuclear-proliferation fox-news/politics/finance/sanctions fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/world fnc cbce3204-df31-5d2f-9e43-e7a3896a7baa article

Iran continued to antagonize the U.S. and Europe on Saturday by publicly threatening to push uranium levels beyond what the country has previously reached – possibly even to weapons-grade levels, an official said.

Behrouz Kamalvandi of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran told reporters that not only can Iran enrich uranium “much more beyond” current levels, but it has also been pumping uranium gas into advanced centrifuges, another violation of the 2015 nuclear deal.

“Under current circumstances, the Islamic Republic of Iran is capable of increasing its enriched uranium stockpile, as well as its enrichment levels, and that is not just limited to 20 percent. We are capable inside the country to increase the enrichment much more beyond that,” Kamalvandi said.

He also warned several times that Iran’s stockpile is “quickly increasing” and added “we hope they will come to their senses,” referring to the international community.

IRAN INJECTS GAS INTO ADVANCED CENTRIFUGES, VIOLATING DEAL

President Trump announced last year that the United States was leaving the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which he called “the worst deal ever” for the U.S.

Since then, tensions between the U.S. and Iran have spiked, with mysterious attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, Iran shooting down a U.S. military surveillance drone and other incidents across the wider Middle East following Trump’s decision.

The 2015 nuclear pact allows for 3.67 percent uranium enrichment, and Iran has already hit up to 4.5 percent. The country has reached up to 20 percent, which analysts say is a short technical step from 90 percent, or weapons-grade level enrichment.

Iran has also started using 20 IR-6 centrifuges and 20 IR-4 centrifuges, Kamalvandi said. The former can produce enriched uranium 10 times faster than an IR-1 centrifuge; an IR-4 can do it five times as quickly.

The country intends to get even more centrifuges up and running within two months and use them in cascades, or large groups of centrifuges that enrich uranium even quicker, Kamalvandi said.

Iran was limited to using 5,060 IR-1 centrifuges under the nuclear deal.

Tehran’s move to use more advanced centrifuges indicates it could be about a year before it would have enough material to build a nuclear weapon, experts estimate.

Kamalvandi insisted Saturday that “the Islamic Republic is not after the bomb.” But he warned that Europe – which remains in the nuclear deal – needs to make a decision on how to move forward.

ROUHANI SAYS IRAN’S RESPONSE TO BILATERAL TALKS WILL ALWAYS BE ‘NEGATIVE’

French President Emmanuel Macron has reportedly offered Iran a $15 billion line of credit to offset the country’s financial woes due to sanctions, under the condition that Iran comes back in compliance with the 2015 deal. President Trump has said economic sanctions against the rogue nation have been working, and Macron’s offer indicates such.

“If Europeans want to make any decision, they should do it soon,” Kamalvandi said.

“As far as the other side does not implement their commitments, they should not expect Iran to fulfill its commitments,” he added.

Despite upping their ante, Kamalvandi said Iran will allow U.N. inspectors to continue to monitor nuclear sites. An official from the International Atomic Energy Agency was slated to meet with Iranian officials on Sunday.

Following Iran’s announcement Saturday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said, “The Iranians are going to pursue what the Iranians have always intended to pursue.”

President Trump has said he is open to talks with Tehran, but Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country always will say “no” to bilateral talks with the United States.

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Also Saturday, satellite images appeared to show Iran’s Adrian Darya-1 oil tanker off the coast of Syria – where Tehran promised it would not go after the tanker was released from custody in Gibraltar last month

The Adrian Darya-1 turned off its tracking system on Monday. Iranian and Syrian officials have not acknowledged the tanker’s new location.

“Anyone who said the Adrian Darya-1 wasn’t headed to Syria is in denial,” National Security Adviser John Bolton tweeted Friday. “We can talk, but Iran’s not getting any sanctions relief until it stops lying and spreading terror!”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group iran-missle-Getty Iran threatens higher uranium enrichment as stockpile ‘quickly increasing,’ official says Melissa Leon fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/nuclear-proliferation fox-news/politics/finance/sanctions fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/world fnc cbce3204-df31-5d2f-9e43-e7a3896a7baa article   Westlake Legal Group iran-missle-Getty Iran threatens higher uranium enrichment as stockpile ‘quickly increasing,’ official says Melissa Leon fox-news/world/world-regions/middle-east fox-news/world/world-regions/europe fox-news/world/conflicts/iran fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/nuclear-proliferation fox-news/politics/finance/sanctions fox-news/person/donald-trump fox news fnc/world fnc cbce3204-df31-5d2f-9e43-e7a3896a7baa article

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