- The Washington Times - Monday, September 16, 2019

President Trump said Monday it is “certainly looking” like Iran was behind a weekend attack on one of the world’s largest oil reserves in Saudi Arabia, though said he isn’t itching for war and needs definitive proof of who ordered the strikes.

Mr. Trump said the U.S. military is more prepared for conflict than ever, though he’s proceeding with care.

“That was a very large attack and it could be met with an attack many, many times larger very easily by our country. But we’re going to find out who definitively did it, first,” he said in a White House meeting with Bahrain Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

“I don’t want war with anybody,” Mr. Trump added. “I’m somebody that would like not to have war.”

The Saturday attack hit a crucial oil field and forced the Saudis to temporarily halt the production of roughly 5.7 million barrels per day, sending crude prices soaring on Monday.

Mr. Trump said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other top officials will travel soon to Saudi Arabia, as officials figure out if Tehran was responsible.

“It’s certainly looking that way, at this moment,” Mr. Trump said. “Soon as we find out definitively, we’ll let you know, but it does look that way.”

“I think you won’t be surprised to see who did it,” he told reporters.

Iranian government officials have consistently denied responsibility for the drone attacks, while Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen — who have been locked in a long, bloody civil war with that nation’s Saudi-backed government — have claimed ownership.

U.S. officials have said that satellite imagery shows almost 20 points of impact consistent with the attack having come from the north — the direction of Iran or Iraq — rather than from Yemen on Saudi Arabia’s southern border.

Also Monday, the Saudis said Iranian weapons were used in the attacks.

Mr. Trump said the Saudis will have to accept the lion’s share of responsibility for any retaliation.

“The fact is that the Saudis are going to have a lot of involvement in this, if we decide to do something,” Mr. Trump said. “They’ll be very much involved, and that includes payment. And they understand that fully.”

In the meantime, Mr. Trump said he is taking steps to moderate any shocks to the global oil supply.

“We have the strategic oil reserves, which are massive, and we can release a little bit of that,” he said.

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