Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, declared that there would be an “all-out war” in the event of Saudi or U.S. military strikes.
While speaking with CNN, Zarif said that Iran hoped to avoid conflict, but refuses to engage in talks with the U.S. unless relieved from sanctions per the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal. He also said that his country had nothing to do with the attacks in the Saudi oil fields that occurred over the weekend.
This from CNN’s interview:
Zarif said Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who claimed responsibility for the attack, have stepped up their military capabilities and were capable of conducting a sophisticated operation such as the one that knocked out half of the kingdom’s energy production.
Probed further, however, Zarif was unable to provide proof that Houthis launched the drones and missiles. “I cannot have any confidence that they did it because we just heard their statement,” said Zarif. “I know that we didn’t do it. I know that the Houthis made a statement that they did it.”
This statement contradicts Saudi Colonel Turki al-Malki, who seems to believe that Iran was in fact involved in the attack. Aljazeera writes:
“The attack was launched from the north and unquestionably sponsored by Iran,” he told reporters. “We are working to know the exact launch point.”
Al-Malki said the cruise missiles had a range of 700km (435 miles), meaning they could not have been fired from inside Yemen. He played surveillance video he said showed a drone coming in from the north.
“This is the kind of weapon the Iranian regime and the Iranian IRGC are using against the civilian … facilities,” he said, using an acronym for Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard Corps. However, al-Malki did not directly blame Iran for the attack when asked by journalists. He said once “the culprits” were definitively identified they would “be held accountable”.
Zarif says that Iran will not back down if provoked. “I make a very serious statement about defending our country. I am making a very serious statement that we don’t want to engage in a military confrontation.”
“But we won’t blink to defend our territory”