Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of ordering drone attack on oil pipeline

Recent days have brought allegations of sabotage attacks targeting oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, a drone attack on a Saudi oil pipeline claimed by Yemen's Iran-allied Houthi rebels, and the dispatch of US warships and bombers to the region.

At the root of the recent spike in Persian Gulf tensions appears to be Trump's decision a year ago to pull the USA from Iran's nuclear deal with world powers, embarking on a maximalist sanctions campaign against Tehran to cripple the country's economy. Yemen's Health Ministry said the strikes killed six people, including four children, and wounded more than 40.

In an hour-long briefing, the UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, struck a cautious tone, stressing his country is "very committed to deescalation" and would exercise "caution and prudence" in a "brittle, difficult" situation.

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. The U.S. military's Central Command said its troops were on high alert, without elaborating.

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.

The attacks took place against a backdrop of U.S.

The U.S.in recent days has ordered the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group to the Gulf region, plus four B-52 bombers.

Iran remains committed to its obligations under an global nuclear deal despite the USA withdrawal from the landmark agreement, its foreign minister said on Thursday, calling the reimposition of U.S. sanctions "unacceptable".

Iran and the United States have engaged in a war of words in recent weeks since Tehran began to roll back commitments set out in its landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Saudi Aramco, the government-controlled oil company, said it temporarily shut down the pipeline and contained a fire, which caused minor damage to one pumping station.

India, the world's third-biggest oil consumer, meets more than 80 percent of its oil needs through imports.

Details remain unclear around alleged acts of sabotage to four oil tankers, including two belonging to Saudi Arabia, off the coast of the UAE's port of Fujairah.

"The company [Saudi Aramco] is working on restoring the pumping station before resuming operations", he said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

A USA official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, has said the other three showed damage as well. Gargash declined to directly blame Iran for the attack, though he repeatedly criticized Tehran.

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.

Tensions have flared in recent weeks after the USA sent warships and bombers to the region to counter an alleged threat from Iran.

Iran would be held accountable for attacks by proxy forces, said the USA that along with Arab allies treats the Yemeni Houthis as Iranian proxies.

International Olympic Committee and other Indian refiners stopped importing crude oil from Iran this month following the US' move to end sanction waivers.


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