03:15 GMT10 August 2020
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    Last September, a drone and missile attack targeting two major Saudi Aramco facilities temporarily wiped out half of the Kingdom’s oil output, with the US and its allies almost immediately blaming the acts of sabotage on Iran, even as Yemen’s Houthi militia claimed responsibility.

    Iran’s mission to the United Nations has responded to US allegations citing a UN report about Tehran’s alleged complicity in the 14 September 2019 attacks on two Saudi oil facilities.

    “The media note of the US Mission of 13 February represents another disinformation campaign against Iran", the Islamic Republic’s UN mission said in a statement, responding to a recent statement put out by the US mission citing a Security Council report on the crisis in Yemen.

    “Just hours after the attack on Saudi oil facilities on 14 September 2019, the US baselessly attributed it to Iran, but has failed so far to present any shred of evidence. Now, it clutches to every straw to seemingly prove its allegation. The latest example is its resort to the recent report by the Panel of Experts on Yemen. But nothing in that report validates the US allegation, which has already been rejected by Iran", the Iranian mission’s statement said.

    Late last week, the US mission to the UN reiterated Washington’s oft-repeated allegation that Tehran was responsible for the Aramco attack, suggesting that the recently released report by the Security Council Yemen panel of experts “confirms the truth that the Houthis could not have launched such an attack, reinforcing the conclusion of the United States, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom that Iran bears responsibility". The US mission urged the report’s findings to be used to renew the UN arms embargo against Iran in October, claiming the lifting of the restrictions would be “a matter of…vital concern for the international community".

    What did the report say?

    In its report, released last week, the Yemen panel, which consisted of experts from the US, Morocco, the UK, Canada, and Germany, suggested that the Houthis were “unlikely to be responsible” for the September attacks on the Saudi Aramco facilities in Abqaiq and Khurays, given the suspected range characteristics of the drones and missiles at the Yemeni militia’s disposal.

    At the same time, however, the panel did admit that “throughout most of 2019, the Houthi forces continued and intensified their aerial attacks on Saudi Arabia", and that “in addition to the previously known weapon systems, they used a new type of Delta-design uncrewed aerial vehicle and a new model of land attack cruise missile". The panel also admitted that “other attacks using the same weapons” as those used in the Aramco attacks “do seem to have been launched from Yemen” on other occasions.
    Remains of what was described as a misfired Iranian cruise missile used in an attack this weekend that targeted the heart of Saudi Arabia's oil industry, is displayed during a press conference by Saudi military spokesman Col. Turki al-Malki, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019
    © AP Photo / Amr Nabil
    Remains of what was described as a misfired Iranian cruise missile used in an attack this weekend that targeted the heart of Saudi Arabia's oil industry, is displayed during a press conference by Saudi military spokesman Col. Turki al-Malki, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019

    The panel said that it “did not believe that those comparatively sophisticated weapons systems” used by the Houthis “were developed and manufactured in Yemen", but did not name any country it said may have been responsible. With regard to Iran, the report stated that the Houthis were known to “receive political and military support from the Islamic Republic of Iran", but added that “the scale of such support is unknown". The panel also noted that based on the remnants of drone engine components retrieved from the scene of the Aramco strikes, it was “unclear” whether the engine components were similar to an Iranian-made design, or were a Chinese design.

    Iran Blames US for Regional Instability

    In its response to the US mission regarding the Yemen panel report, Iran’s UN mission alleged that the “massive buildup of US forces” in the Middle East and Washington’s “military adventurism, as well as the unprecedented flow of American sophisticated weaponry to its regional allies and partners” were the real “main sources of instability and insecurity in the Persian Gulf". Therefore, the mission argued, “instead of accusing others, the US must put an end to all its divisive policies and destabilising activities in the region".

    Accusing Washington of violating Security Council Resolution 2231 on the Iran nuclear deal and of pressuring other UN members to do the same, the mission suggested that its latest comment on the drone attacks was “yet another desperate attempt to undermine [the] implementation” of the nuclear deal.

    On 14 September 2019, drone and missile attacks targeting two Saudi oil facilities temporarily knocked out about half of the country’s oil output. The US and several of its allies almost immediately accused Iran of complicity, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blaming the Islamic Republic just hours later, before any sort of investigation was begun. Iran denied the charges. Yemen’s Houthi militia, who have launched dozens of drone and missile attacks against targets in Saudi Arabia over the years, claimed responsibility and accused anyone who doubted them of “cowardice".

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