PRESIDENT Donald Trump has vowed that America is “locked and loaded” in response to drone attacks on Saudi Arabia that cut into global energy supplies and halved the kingdom’s oil production.
Mr Trump took to his favourite means of communication, Twitter and said the United States was waiting to hear from the Saudis as to who they believe was behind the attack and “under what terms we would proceed!”
President Trump’s tweets followed a National Security Council meeting at the White House that included Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
A US official speaking on condition of anonymity said all options, including a military response, were on the table, but added that no decisions had been made.
Washington has also released new evidence to back up its allegation that Iran was responsible for the assault amid heightened tensions over Tehran’s collapsing nuclear deal.
Hours earlier, senior US officials said satellite imagery and other intelligence showed the strike was inconsistent with one launched from Yemen, where Iranian-backed Houthi rebels had claimed responsibility.
Officials said the photos show impacts consistent with the attack coming from the direction of Iran or Iraq, rather than from Yemen to the south.
Iran, meanwhile, called Washington’s claims “maximum lies,” while a commander in its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard reiterated its forces could strike US military bases across the Middle East with their arsenal of ballistic missiles.
Earlier, Mr Trump said he had approved the release of US strategic petroleum reserves “if needed” to stabilise energy markets after the attack on Saudi Arabian facilities.
The US president tweeted that the attacks could have an impact on oil prices and the final amount of the release, if any, would be “sufficient to keep the markets well-supplied”.
The authorisation alone could help prevent a spike in oil prices after the attack led to the suspension of more than 5% of the world’s daily crude oil production.
Mr Trump later credited himself for expanding US energy exports in a Monday morning tweet, writing: “We don’t need Middle Eastern Oil & Gas, & in fact have very few tankers there, but will help our Allies!”