Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei approved the attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure, a U.S. government official told CBS, adding that the approval had been granted on the condition that Iran’s involvement could be denied.
If what other U.S. officials are saying is accurate, this condition has not been met, however. Earlier this week, a team of U.S. security experts who traveled to Saudi Arabia to examine the wreckage of the drones and cruise missiles fired against Aramco’s Khurais field and the Abqaiq processing facility said they had determined the weapons were manufactured in Iran.
Yesterday, Saudi officials displayed fragments of the missiles, saying they were made in Iran as were the drones used in the attack, for which the Houthi rebel group in Yemen took responsibility.
They also showed surveillance footage of incoming drones, although there was no footage of the actual hits that caused fires at Abqaiq.
Now, CBS reports that the circuit boards of the missiles can be reverse engineered, which would reveal their route to their target. What’s more, however, according to the U.S. government sources, there were satellite images showing the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps preparing for the launch of the missiles at the Ahvaz Air Base.
As to why the evidence was not used to prevent the attack, one U.S. official told CBS the significance of the images was only figured out in hindsight. Related: How An Oil Supply Outage Could Paralyze Asia
"We were caught completely off guard," the source said.
There have been calls for a U.S. military response to the attacks, but President Trump has taken a guarded stance. While ordering the Pentagon to draft several response alternatives, the U.S. commander in chief said "There's plenty of time to do some dastardly things. We'll see what happens."
A government source told CNN there were going to be "No knee jerk reactions to this - it's very systematic - what happens with patience is it prevents stupid moves."
The source added that the U.S. administration was biding its time before it decided on a response, with the net UNB General Assembly meeting in New York seen as a good moment to discuss the issue with other world leaders.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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