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The Latest: Saudi says oil attack came 'from the north'

Posted on Wednesday, September 18th, 2019 By The Associated Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The Latest on tensions in the Persian Gulf (all times local):

6:50 p.m.

A Saudi military spokesman says an attack on its oil industry came "from the north."

Col. Turki al-Maliki did not elaborate, but to the north across the Persian Gulf is Iraq and Iran.

He spoke at a news conference Wednesday in Riyadh, the kingdom's capital.

Al-Maliki said the attack was "unquestionable sponsored by Iran."

On Saturday, an attack struck the world's biggest oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia, as well as an oil field. Though Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed the assault, the U.S. alleges Iran was behind it.

Tehran has denied being involved and warned the U.S. it would retaliate "immediately" if targeted over it.


5:30 p.m.

The International Energy Agency says oil markets remain well supplied and that it's not yet considered releasing emergency stocks of crude to offset the drop in output caused by the weekend attacks on Saudi oil installations.

The Paris-based agency, which advises governments and can release oil stocks in times of crisis, said Wednesday its member states hold about 1.55 billion barrels of emergency reserves. That amounts to 15 days of world oil demand, "more than enough to offset any significant disruption in supplies for an extended period of time."

The IEA has only released emergency stocks three times: in 1991 ahead of the Gulf War, in 2005 due to hurricanes in the U.S. and in 2011 over the Libyan war.

IEA head Fatih Birol said: "At this point, we do not see the need to take such action."


1:15 p.m.

Iran's state-run news agency is reporting that Iran sent an official warning through Swiss diplomats to the U.S. that any action taken against Tehran "will face an immediate answer."

That's according to a report Wednesday by the IRNA news agency.

It said that Iran sent the diplomatic note to the Swiss on Monday. The Swiss Embassy has looked after America's interests in Iran for decades.

There was no immediate reaction from U.S. diplomats.

The note also reiterated that Iran says it has nothing to do with Saturday's attack on oil installations in Saudi Arabia. While Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have claimed the assault, the U.S. has alleged Iran was behind it.


12:45 p.m.

Iran's state-run news agency says its president, foreign minister may not go to the United Nations General Assembly as the U.S. has yet to issue them visas.

IRNA made the report Wednesday, saying its first delegation for the annual event had not left Iran due to not having visas.

It said Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was to travel there Friday, with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani following behind Monday.

This comes as the U.N. meeting had been floated as the possible site of a direct meeting between President Donald Trump and Rouhani.

However, a weekend attack on vital Saudi oil installations has further raised tensions in the region. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also said direct talks wouldn't happen.


11:10 a.m.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says Saudi Arabia should see the attack this weekend on its oil facilities as a warning to end its Yemen war.

Rouhani made the comments at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday in Tehran.

In the video released by state TV, Rouhani did not address U.S. and Saudi allegations that Iran was behind the attack Saturday.

A Saudi-led coalition has been battling Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthi rebels since March 2015.


10:40 a.m.

France is sending experts to help investigate drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities.

French President Emmanuel Macron's office announced the move in a statement Wednesday after the French leader spoke to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The statement says the French experts are going at Saudi request to help "shed all light on the origin and methods" of the attacks.

Macron denounced the attacks and stressed the importance of Saudi Arabia's security.

Macron's office said Tuesday that France is continuing diplomatic efforts to reduce tensions around the Persian Gulf.

Saturday's attack targeted the world's largest oil processing facility and a major oil field in Saudi Arabia. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed the attack, though the U.S. and Saudi Arabia suspect Iran was behind the assault. Iran denies being involved.


8:30 a.m.

Saudi Arabia says it is joining a U.S.-led coalition to secure the Mideast's waterways after an attack targeting its crucial oil industry.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency carried a statement Wednesday morning quoting an unnamed official saying the kingdom had joined the International Maritime Security Construct.

That's a mission already joined by Australia, Bahrain and the United Kingdom.

The U.S. formed the coalition after attacks on oil tankers that American officials blame on Iran, as well as Iran's seizure of tankers in the region. Iran denies being behind the tanker explosions.

The U.S. military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Saturday, an attack struck the world's biggest oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia.

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