U.S. doesn't need Mideast oil. discusses Iran response | News Coverage from USA

U.S. doesn’t need Mideast oil. discusses Iran response

David Jackson


Published 10:18 AM EDT Sep 16, 2019

WASHINGTON – A day after appearing to threaten military action against Iran over the attack on Saudi Arabia oil facilities, President Donald Trump struck a more neutral tone early Monday by saying the United States does not need Middle East oil production.

“Because we have done so well with Energy over the last few years (thank you, Mr. President!), we are a net Energy Exporter, & now the Number One Energy Producer in the World,” Trump said. “We don’t need Middle Eastern Oil & Gas, & in fact have very few tankers there, but will help our Allies!”

While Iran denied the attack, and said it would defend itself against any kind of military attack, Trump also referred to an incident over the summer in which Iran shot down a US drone it said had invaded its airspace.

“They stuck strongly to that story knowing that it was a very big lie,” Trump said. “Now they say that they had nothing to do with the attack on Saudi Arabia. We’ll see?”

In June, Trump ordered a military strike on Iran, but changed his mind at the last minute and said the loss of Iranian lives would not have been proportionate to the destruction of an American drone.

Iran insisted the drone invaded its air space, and has accused the U.S. is trying to provoke hostilities.

After meeting with aides Sunday, Trump indicated that “help” to Saudi Arabia could include some kind of military action, claiming the U.S. is “locked and loaded” after the attack on Saudi oil supplies.

While he did not name Iran specifically, Trump tweeted late Sunday that “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!”

Trump aides, meanwhile, have pointed the finger directly at Iran.

Over the weekend, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that “we call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran’s attacks. 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.”

Iran, meanwhile, denies involvement in the Saudi attack and said it is prepared to defend itself with “full-fledged war.” 

Rebels in Yemen who are at war with Saudi Arabia have taken responsibility for the attack, but U.S. officials have questioned whether they are capable of pulling off such an operation, at least not without major help from Iran.

As Trump and his administration formulate a response, Pompeo was spotted at the White House on Sunday, as was Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

With global oil prices expected to spike upward, Trump said Sunday he may tap the strategic oil reserve to stabilize the market.

Administration critics blamed Trump for the Middle East predicament. They cited his decision to pull the United States from the Iran nuclear agreement, in which Tehran agreed to give up the means to make nuclear weapons as the U.S. and allies pulled back economic sanctions on the country.

Now the U.S. has renewed sanctions. Iran has responded by reviving some nuclear programs.

Trump critics also say his offer to help Saudi Arabia is too open-ended, and could eventually involve the American military.

“Pulling out of the Iran Deal, giving the Saudis a blank check for their war in Yemen, and piling on sanctions and threats has not worked,” tweeted Ben Rhodes, a national security aide to President Barack Obama. “We are at the predictable brink of an even wider war which is precisely where Trump’s catastrophic policy has put us.”

Trump has also made diplomatic noises toward Iran, suggesting that he might be open to a new Iran nuclear agreement.

Trump has also entertained the idea of meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations later this month, though the Iranian government appeared to shoot down that idea Monday.

“Neither is such an event on our agenda, nor will it happen,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi, speaking on state television. “Such a meeting will not take place.”

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