Iran warns of 'all-out war' if hit over Saudi oil field attack

Iran's foreign minister warned any attack on his country over the drone and missile strikes on Saudi Arabia's oil industry will result in "all-out war," further pushing up tensions across the Persian Gulf.

Mohammad Javad Zarif's comments on Thursday represent the starkest warning offered yet by Iran in a long summer of attacks following the collapse of Iran's nuclear deal with world powers.

His comments also appeared to be in response to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who a day earlier while travelling to Saudi Arabia referred to the attack as an "act of war."

Asked by CNN what would be the consequence of a U.S. or Saudi strike, Zarif said: "All-out war."

Iran has warned any attack on his country over the drone and missile strikes on Saudi Arabia's oil industry will result in "all-out war". Credit: AP

Zarif said: "I am making a very serious statement that we don't want to engage in a military confrontation," before adding, "but we won't blink to defend our territory."

He added that any sanctions placed by the U.S. on Iran after pulling out of the nuclear deal would need to be lifted before any further negotiations could be considered.

The Saudis claim to have recovered bits of Iranian drones. Credit: AP

"They've done whatever they could and they haven't been able to bring us to our knees," Zarif said.

Pompeo, who had just arrived to the United Arab Emirates, did not immediately respond to Zarif's warning.

America's top diplomat met earlier Thursday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jiddah over Saturday's attack on a crucial oil processing facility and oil field, which halved the kingdom's oil production.

Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have claimed the attack, but the U.S. alleges Iran carried out the assault.

"The U.S. stands with #SaudiArabia and supports its right to defend itself," Pompeo tweeted.

He added: "The Iranian regime's threatening behavior will not be tolerated."

A satellite image shows thick black smoke rising from Saudi Aramco’s Abqaiq oil processing facility in Buqyaq. Credit: AP

US President Donald Trump has been noncommittal on whether he would order U.S. military retaliation.

He separately said on Wednesday he is moving to increase financial sanctions on Tehran over the attack, without elaborating. Iran already is subject to a crushing American sanctions program targeting its crucial oil industry.

Pompeo met Abu Dhabi's powerful crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The UAE is a close ally of Saudi Arabia and joined the kingdom in its war in Yemen against the Houthis.

The UAE announced Thursday it had joined a U.S-led coalition to protect waterways across the Mideast after an attack on Saudi oil installations.

The US said missiles and drones used in the weekend attacks on a Saudi oil installations originated in Iran. Credit: AP

The state-run WAM news agency quoted Salem al-Zaabi of the Emirati Foreign Ministry as saying the UAE joined the coalition to "ensure global energy security and the continued flow of energy supplies to the global economy."

Saudi Arabia joined the coalition on Wednesday where Australia, Bahrain and the United Kingdom also are taking part.

Pompeo tweeted his appreciation for the UAE and Saudi Arabia joining the coalition.

"Recent events underscore the importance of protecting global commerce and freedom of navigation," he wrote.