Vice President Mike Pence said the U.S. is “ready” to respond militarily to the crippling attack on Saudi Arabian oilfields Tuesday, and suggested Iran is to blame.
Iran’s supreme leader ruled out talks as tensions remain high in the tinderbox region.
The veep hinted American intelligence has pinpointed the Islamic republic as the culprit in the attacks although no evidence has been revealed that directly implicates Tehran.
“The United States of America will take whatever action is necessary to defend our country, our troops, and our allies in the Gulf. You can count on it,” Pence said in a speech at the conservative Heritage Institute.
Pence said it it “looks like” Iran carried out the weekend drone attacks that knocked out about half of Saudi oil production, but said the U.S. was still working to confirm the details.
American experts were poring over the damage for clues about who fired the missiles that slammed into some of the world’s richest oilfields.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to jet out to Riyadh for talks with Saudi leaders.
Iran said it wouldn’t meet with American officials until the U.S. agrees to rejoin the nuclear deal Trump dumped last year.
“This is part of their policy to put pressure on Iran,” Iranian state TV quoted Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying.
Gasoline prices jumped on Tuesday after crude oil futures spiked nearly 15% in response to the attacks, although the rise might be tempered by Saudi reports that it could restore full production in weeks.
The average national gasoline price jumped 3 cents to $2.59 per gallon on Tuesday, the American Automobile Association said on its website, with analysts anticipating a gain of roughly 10 to 25 cents per gallon in coming days.
The attacks knocked about 5.7 million barrels of crude oil output off the market, or more than 5% of global supply.
Anti-Saudi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack. But most Western analysts blame Iran.
Critics slammed Trump for seeming to put American troops at the disposal of Saudi leaders when he suggested in a tweet Monday that the U.S. was waiting for direction from Saudi leaders.
Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard called Trump a “pimp” for threatening a military response over the attack on Saudi oil.
.@realDonaldTrump Despicable. Offering to place our military assets under the command of a foreign country—Saudi Arabia—is a disgrace and betrayal of my patriotic brothers and sisters in uniform and to our Constitution. We are not your prostitutes. You are not our pimp. pic.twitter.com/Cu1OewEMOC