Trump orders new Iran sanctions after Saudi attack

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes, Veronica Rocha and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 10:09 p.m. ET, September 18, 2019
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1:08 p.m. ET, September 18, 2019

Pompeo says Saudi oil attack was an "act of war"

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

 SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
 SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the strike on Saudi oil facilities “an Iranian attack” that was an “act of war."

Pompeo stopped short of providing any details definitively showing the Iranians launched the attack from Iran. 

"We were blessed that there were no Americans killed in this attack but any time you have an act of war of this nature, there’s always risk that that could happen,” he said. “This is an attack of a scale we’ve just not seen before,” he added later.

Pompeo, speaking to reporters off-camera before landing in Jeddah, said: "This was an Iranian attack. It’s not the case that you can subcontract out the devastation of 5% of the world’s global energy supply and think that you can absolve yourself from responsibility. Were it the case that the Houthis’ fraudulent claim was accurate, were that true — it’s not, but were that true, it doesn’t change the fingerprints of the Ayatollah as having put at risk the global energy supply."

Pompeo said the intelligence community has high confidence that the Houthis did not possess weapons systems like the ones used in the attacks. He said that they believe the attacks originated in Iran, not in Iraq.

"As for how we know, the equipment used is unknown to be in the Houthi arsenal,” he said. “These line attack cruise missiles we have never seen there and we think we’ve seen most everything. So the intelligence community has high confidence that these were not weapons that would have been in the possession of the Houthis. That’s probably the most important piece of information.”

“We also know that these are systems that the Iranians have not deployed anyplace else, that they have not deployed outside of their country to the best of our knowledge. We’ve not seen them deploy these types of UAV systems with the kinds of ranges and capabilities nor have we seen them place these missiles where they could have done it. We’ve seen no evidence that it came from Iraq. It could have well have traveled over Kuwait — we’ve not seen that,” Pompeo said. 

He also called the Houthis liars and suggested they do not operate independently from Tehran.

“Whenever you report about them, and you say, ‘The Houthis said,’ you should say ‘The well known frequently lying Houthis have said the following.’ This is important because you ought not report them as if these truth-tellers, as if these are people who aren’t completely under the boot of the Iranians and who would not, at the direction of the Iranians, lay claim to attacks that they did not engage in. Which clearly was the case here,” Pompeo said. “So there you go, whenever you say Houthis, you should begin with, ‘the well-known, frequently known to lie Houthis,’ and then you can write whatever it is they say. And that’d be good reporting (laughter) and I know you care deeply about that good reporting.”

12:49 p.m. ET, September 18, 2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Saudi Arabia


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where he will meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

What we know about his trip: The pair will discuss Saturday's attack on Saudi oil facilities and "coordinate efforts to counter Iranian aggression in the region," according to a State Department statement.

12:36 p.m. ET, September 18, 2019

President Trump and UK prime minister discuss Saudi attacks

From CNN’s Natasha Maguder

President Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson discussed Saturday’s attacks on the Aramco oil facilities in Saudi Arabia over the phone today.

“The Prime Minister spoke to President Trump this afternoon following Saturday’s attacks on the Aramco oil facilities in Saudi Arabia,” a spokesperson for Downing Street told CNN.

“They condemned the attacks and discussed the need for a united diplomatic response from international partners.”

“They also spoke about Iran and agreed that they must not be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon,” the spokesperson added.

The two world leaders also “briefly” discussed Brexit and the upcoming United Nations General Assembly.

12:26 p.m. ET, September 18, 2019

US and Saudi Arabia are working together, Defense Ministry says

From CNN’s Mohammed Tawfeeq

Ahead of United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit, Saudi Defense Ministry spokesperson Lt. Col. Turki al Malki said both countries are “working together to preserve the peace and stability in the region.”

“We are working together to share the information,” al Malki said.

He continued: “In Saudi Arabia there are more than 34,000 American people that are living with us. It is important to protect our people and people who live among us.”

11:45 a.m. ET, September 18, 2019

Saudi official says kingdom has not failed at defending itself

From CNN’s Mohammed Tawfeeq

Saudi Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Col. Turki al Malki was just asked why Saudi Arabia could not stop the weekend attack on its oil facilities.

He said the country had not failed in defending itself and added it had intercepted more than 230 ballistic missiles.

“There is no country in the world being attacked with such amount of ballistic missiles “ al Maliki said during a press conference held in Riyadh Wednesday.
11:28 a.m. ET, September 18, 2019

Saudi investigators aren't sure yet where the missiles were launched

From CNN’s Mohammed Tawfeeq

Investigations into the weekend Saudi oil attacks are ongoing, and Saudi officials are working to determine the exact launch point, Saudi Defense Ministry spokesperson Lt. Col. Col. Turki al Malki said.

“We have a lot of ways and methods to determine the launch point,” al Maliki said.

He added they have a lot of information coming from analysts, but for security reasons he cannot give more details.

11:14 a.m. ET, September 18, 2019

A Saudi defense official just showed weapons used in the attacks. He says they're Iranian.

From CNN’s Mohammed Tawfeeq

The Saudi Defense Ministry showed videos and images of the weapons that were used in the attacks on Saudi oil facilities at a press conference moments ago.

The Saudi Defense Ministry spokesman, Lt. Col. Turki al Malki said the attack itself did not come from the Yemeni side but the attack was carried out from the north to the south. He added that the weapons used in the attack are of Iranian origin. 

Some context: Saudi and US investigators have determined "with very high probability" that the attack on the Saudi oil industry was launched from an Iranian base, according to a source familiar with the investigation. Meanwhile, Yemen's Houthi rebels said they're responsible.

He said the kingdom has a "strong relationship with the United States."

"It's not just for the Saudi and for the international community. We're working together to preserve the peace and stability in the region and to also secure our national security," he added.

10:33 a.m. ET, September 18, 2019

Saudi officials say they will show "strong evidence" that Iran is behind the attacks

From CNN’s Mohammed Tawfeeq

The Saudi Defense Ministry said it will display images of the weapons used in the attacks on Saudi oil facilities, according to Saudi State-run al Ekhbariya Television.

The ministry said the weapons are Iranian.

The Saudi Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Col. Turki al Malki, is expected to hold a press conference in Riyadh today to show “strong evidence” that Iran is behind the attacks, according to al Ekhbariya. 

Keep in mind: While Saudi and US investigators have determined "with very high probability" that the attack on the Saudi oil industry was launched from an Iranian base, Iran has rejected the accusation that it is responsible.

10:14 a.m. ET, September 18, 2019

Iran's president: The US is trying "exert maximum slander"

From CNN's Nick Paton Walsh and Salma Abdelaziz

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said earlier today that the Americans cannot achieve their goals with maximum pressure, according to state broadcaster IRIB.

The comments came just hours before President Trump said he is ordering new sanctions on Iran.

"I am telling the American authorities that it is impossible to negotiate with maximum pressure and that if you are truthful and seek to negotiate, all pressure must be stopped against Iran," Rouhani said.

Rouhani went on to say, "Instead of creating a positive atmosphere, the American diplomats today are trying to exert maximum slander on Iran with baseless and meaningless accusations."

According to IRIB, Rouhani said that the Iranian nation is a nation of peace, diplomacy and negotiation. He added that anyone who wants to force the Iranian people through psychological, political and economic pressure must stop this pressure.