Iran Warns U.S. of Response to Any Action Over Saudi Attack

TEHRAN (AP) -
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses a cabinet meeting in Tehran. (Official President website/Handout via Reuters)

Iran warned the U.S. that any action taken against it following an attack on Saudi oil installations will “immediately” be met with a response from Tehran, its state-run news agency reported Wednesday, further raising Mideast tensions.

Iran’s president and foreign minister also may skip next week’s high-level meetings at the United Nations as the U.S. has yet to issue them visas, IRNA reported.

The U.N. meeting had been considered as an opportunity for direct talks between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and President Donald Trump amid a summer of heightened tensions and attacks in the wake of America’s unilateral withdraw from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers a year ago.

However, the recent attack in Saudi Arabia and hardening comments from Iran suggest such talks are increasingly unlikely.

Iran sent a note through Swiss diplomats in Tehran on Monday, reiterating that Tehran denies being involved in the Saudi attack, IRNA reported. The Swiss have looked after American interests in Tehran for decades.

“If any action takes place against Iran, the action will be faced by Iran’s answer immediately,” IRNA quoted the note as saying. It added that Iran’s response wouldn’t be limited to the source of the threat, without elaborating.

IRNA separately reported Wednesday that Iran’s first delegation for the annual U.N. event had not left Iran due to lack of visas. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was to travel to New York on Friday, with Rouhani following behind Monday, according to the agency.

As the host of the U.N.’s headquarters, the U.S. is mandated to offer world leaders and diplomats visas to attend meetings there. But as tensions have risen, the U.S. has put increasing restrictions on Iranians like Zarif.

The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is traveling to Saudi Arabia for meetings after Saturday’s attack on a Saudi oil field and the world’s largest crude oil processing plant. Saudi officials separately planned to share information about the weapons used in the attack they allege are Iranian.

Saudi Arabia also said on Wednesday that it joined a U.S.-led coalition to secure the Mideast’s waterways amid threats from Iran after an attack targeting its crucial oil industry, while Rouhani told the kingdom it should see the attack as a warning to end its yearslong war in Yemen.

Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have claimed the attack. The U.S. accuses Iran of being behind the assault, while Saudi Arabia already has said “Iranian weaponry” was used. Iran denies that.

“Almost certainly it’s Iranian-backed,” Prince Khalid bin Bandar, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, told the BBC. “We are trying not to react too quickly because the last thing we need is more conflict in the region.”

The state-run Saudi Press Agency carried a statement Wednesday morning quoting an unnamed official saying the kingdom had joined the International Maritime Security Construct.