Trump officials claim that satellite imagery and the direction of the Saudi oil field attack prove that Iran was to blame

Saudi oil attack damageThis image provided on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, by the U.S. government and DigitalGlobe and annotated by the source, shows damage to the infrastructure at Saudi Aramco's Abaqaiq oil processing facility in Buqyaq, Saudi Arabia.U.S. government/Digital Globe via AP
  • US officials have revealed evidence that they claim indicates likely Iranian responsibility for Saturday's attack on two major oil fields in eastern Saudi Arabia. 
  • President Donald Trump on Sunday said that the US is "locked and loaded" in response to the attack, though he declined to name Iran as the culprit. 
  • US secretary of state Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the attack on Saturday, despite Houthi rebels in Yemen claiming responsibility. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Trump administration officials have claimed that intelligence assessments indicate that Iran was likely responsible for Saturday's attack on two major oil fields in Saudi Arabia that put global markets in chaos.

In briefings to news organisations on Sunday, officials provided evidence in a bid to substantiate Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's accusation Saturday that the attack on Saudi Arabia's Abqaiq and Khurais facilities was committed by Iran. 

The Abqaiq facility is located in the Buqyaq region in the east of the country, about 60 km from the nearest town. It's one of the most important oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, and the attack halved the kingdom's oil output, causing a spike in prices

Saudi oil facilityThis Google Maps image shows the location of the Abqaiq Saudi Aramco oil facility in eastern Saudi Arabia.Google maps

This image, declassified by the US government Sunday, shows the oil facility in Abqaiq in January, before the attacks.

Officials say that the direction of the attacks, which can be seen in the image, substantiates their accusation against Iran.

The areas in white boxes are those which were hit in the attack. 

Saudi oil attackThis image provided on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, by the U.S. government and DigitalGlobe and annotated by the source, shows a pre-strike overview at Saudi Aramco's Abaqaiq oil processing facility in Buqyaq, Saudi Arabia.U.S. government/Digital Globe via AP
This image shows the damage after Saturday's attack, where US officials say there were 17 points of impact on infrastructure at the facility. 

Saudi oil attack damageThis image provided on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, by the U.S. government and DigitalGlobe and annotated by the source, shows damage to the infrastructure at Saudi Aramco's Abaqaiq oil processing facility in Buqyaq, Saudi Arabia.U.S. government/Digital Globe via AP

These before-and-after images show damage to the oil facility in Khurais, about 200 km southwest of Abqaiq. 

Saudi oil attacksThis image provided on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, by the U.S. government and DigitalGlobe and annotated by the source, shows a pre-strike overview at Saudi Aramco's Khurais oil field in Buqyaq, Saudi Arabia.U.S. government/Digital Globe via AP

Saudi oil field attackThis image provided on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, by the U.S. government and DigitalGlobe and annotated by the source, shows damage to the infrastructure at Saudi Aramco's Khurais oil field in Buqyaq, Saudi Arabia.U.S. government/Digital Globe via AP

Houthi militias in Yemen have claimed responsibility for the attack, which they claim they launched using a fleet of drones. 

However, US officials told the New York Times that the attacks likely came from the north or northwest, which they say the images support. This thesis suggests that the attacks were launched from Iran or Iraq, rather than Yemen, which is southwest of the facilities. 

Iran has denied any responsibility for the attacks, but experts say that Iran frequently carries out attacks using proxies in order to maintain plausible deniability. 

In a background briefing, US officials told the Times that that both drones and cruise missiles were used in the attack, with the scope, precision and sophistication of the attack likely beyond the capacity of Yemen's Houthi.

A senior administration official told ABC News that Iran launched 12 cruise missiles and 20 drones from its territory in the attack on the facilities. 

Officials also said that some of the weapons used in the attack failed to reach their target, and that analysis of them would yield more clues about who was likely responsible. 

Experts are calling for the US government to release more images for independent experts to analyse and assess the accuracy of US claims.  

President Trump in a tweet Sunday said the US was "locked and loaded" in response to the attack, but declined to name Iran as the culprit. 

 

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