Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 14 December 2019

Financial pressure is the best way to control Iran, says Saudi foreign minister

Saudi Arabia is calling on the world to counter Iranian aggression after Aramco attacks

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Ibrahim Al Assaf addresses the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in New York. Reuters
Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Ibrahim Al Assaf addresses the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in New York. Reuters

Saudi Arabia called on the world to apply maximum pressure to end Iran’s aggression, saying the most effective way to control Tehran is to cut off its financial resources.

Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al Assaf again blamed Iran for the September 14 missile and drone attack on Saudi oil facilities, which jolted global oil prices and temporarily knocked out nearly 6 per cent of daily global crude production.

“We know very well who stood behind this aggression,” Mr Al Assaf told the UN General Assembly.

He called the strikes a flagrant breach of international laws and a threat to international peace and security.

“We have known that regime for 40 years," Mr Al Assaf said. "It is good at nothing but masterminding explosions, destruction and assassinations, not only in our region but also throughout the world.

“Utmost pressure with every tool available should be applied to end the terrorist and aggressive conduct of the Iranian regime.”

Saudi Arabia insists Iranian weapons were used and has invited UN investigators to assess where the strikes hit.

The US, France, Britain and Germany also blame Iran, which has been under US sanctions since 2018.

Iran has repeatedly denied any involvement and President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran would not talk until the sanctions were lifted.

“Cease this policy of maximum pressure and pursue a policy of dialogue and logic and reason,” Mr Rouhani said on the sidelines of the General Assembly on Thursday.

US President Donald Trump has deferred, at least for now, any immediate military strike on Iran. But he approved a broader effort to increase security in Saudi Arabia and the region.

Mr Trump said that showing restraint “shows far more strength” than launching retaliatory strikes.

The US said on Thursday that it was sending one Patriot missile battery and four ground-based radar systems to Saudi Arabia, in what officials call the first steps to help the kingdom protect itself against Iranian attacks.

Two more Patriot batteries and a Thaad anti-ballistic missile system will be prepared to go later if needed, and about 200 troops will be sent.

“It is necessary for the international community to realise that cutting off sources of finance is the best way to compel the regime to renounce its militias, prevent it from developing ballistic missiles and put an end to its destabilising activities in the region and the world,” Mr Al Assaf said.

“We are dealing with a rogue and terrorist system that continues to threaten international peace and security.

"It also jeopardises energy supplies and the world economy. Hence, the recent attacks are a real test of the international community’s will."

Tension between Iran and the West have risen since Trump withdrew the US from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, saying the agreement was woefully inadequate.

The US imposed heavy sanctions on Iran, even as other signatory nations to the nuclear accord argued for trying to salvage it.

After complying with the agreement for a year, Iran has returned to expanding its nuclear enrichment program.

Updated: September 27, 2019 05:42 AM

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