Oil prices jump on drone attack on Saudi Aramco facilities

WTI and Brent Crude Oil

The reported pipeline attacks came after the UAE said four ships were damaged in "sabotage attacks" off the emirate of Fujairah, close to the Hormuz, on Sunday.

Iranian media thinks the drone strikes are important because it burnishes Iran's image and shows that Iranian backing, even if Iran doesn't take direct credit for that backing, is aiding the Houthis.

Mr Motahhari told FARS news agency: "The US military forces" deployment in the Persian Gulf is more of the nature of psychological warfare. Impeding the global passage of oil tankers has serious repercussions for free shipping and worldwide trade - and will help push up insurance costs.

In Tehran, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei cautioned: "Neither we, nor them, is seeking war".

This followed a USA decision to end exemptions from sanctions for major importers of Iranian oil.

The official did not explain why the sabotage was attributed to Iran, but a standard investigative question is to ask what party would have had the motive. "Absolutely. But we have not planned for that", Trump said. The UAE asked the United States to help investigate the damage, which Gulf officials have characterised as sabotage.

US national security agencies believe proxies sympathetic to or working for Iran may have sabotaged the tankers near the UAE rather than Iranian forces themselves, a USA official familiar with the latest USA assessments said.

An Emirati official said three Western countries - the US, France and Norway - would be part of an investigation into the ship attacks along with the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

The central oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia has been hit by drones, Saudi Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid al-Falih said on Tuesday.

Asked whether the U.S. believed Iran played a role in the attacks, Washington's Iran envoy Brian Hook declined to comment, saying only that United States authorities would help the investigation at the request of the UAE. Two other vessels were allegedly also damaged off Fujairah port in UAE waters.

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The Norwegian owners said their vessel sustained a hole in its hull from "an unknown object".

Iran has called for a full investigation into Sunday's incident which it described as "worrisome".

President Trump, reacting to the Times report, said today the United States has not "planned" to send troops to Iran. "If they do anything, it would be a very bad mistake", he said at the White House. "If they do anything they will suffer greatly".

With the US's "maximum pressure" campaign triggering an economic crisis in Iran, the country's President Hassan Rouhani announced plans to scale back compliance with the nuclear deal unless remaining signatories acted to shield Tehran's economy.

"God willing we will pass this hard period with glory and our heads held high, and defeat the enemy", he said in a meeting with clerics late on Monday.

The assessment, while not conclusive, was the first suggestion by any nation that Iran was responsible and comes after a series of United States warnings against aggression by Tehran or its allies and proxies against military or commercial vessels in the region, reports Efe news.

The Israeli sources noted that the Iranian target list does not rule out civilian targets and ports in the area.

Iran is embroiled in a war of words with the United States over sanctions and the USA military presence in the region.

"For the moment the frigate Mendez Nunez has left the combat group", a defence ministry spokesman told the AFP news agency.

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