UK blames Iran for attack on Saudi oil fields and UK forces could be sent

The damaged Khurais oil field in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province. Credit: AP

The Prime Minister is directly blaming Iran for the attacks on Saudi oil facilities last weekend.

“The UK is attributing responsibility, with a very high degree of probability, to Iran for the Aramco attacks,” he said on his way to the UN in New York, “We think it very likely indeed that Iran was indeed responsible using both drones and cruise missiles.”

Mr Johnson added that British forces could be sent to defend Saudi Arabia if there was a request for assistance: “If we are asked either by the Saudis or by the Americans to have a role then we would consider in what way we could be useful.”

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

Houthi rebels fighting against Saudi backed forces in Yemen had claimed they carried out the attack. But a government source said: “The Houthis’ claim of responsibility is implausible. Imagery from the site of the attack shows the remnants of Iranian made ground-attack cruise missiles, and the scale, sophistication and range of the attack is inconsistent with the Houthis’ capability.”

So far only the Saudis themselves and the United States have said they believe Iran is responsible.

Speaking to reporters on the plane to New York where the Saudi attacks will be high on the agenda, Mr Johnson said he would be raising them with the Iranian President during their meeting there.

He also said he would tell President Rouhani that dual British-Iranian nationals, like Nazanin Zaghari-Radcliffe, held illegally in Iran should be released.

Asked if there was a case for tighter sanctions against Iran the Prime Minister said: “There is certainly a case for responding together and that’s what we’re going to do.”