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John Kerry says Iran was likely behind Saudi oil plant attack "one way or another"

Kerry: Iran likely behind Saudi oil attack
John Kerry says Iran was likely behind Saudi oil attack "one way or another" 12:17

Agreeing with the assessment from top Trump administration officials in recent days, former Secretary of State John Kerry said he believes the Iranian government was involved in the recent attacks on an oil processing plants in Saudi Arabia. 

"I believe Iran, one way or another, was behind the attack that took place. That, to me, is obvious," Kerry said on "Face the Nation" Sunday. 

On September 14, two state-owned oil plants in eastern Saudi Arabia were attacked in the early morning hours, forcing the kingdom to temporarily halt a substantial part of its oil production, which rattled global markets. Although the Iran-backed Houthi rebel group in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attacks, U.S. officials were quick to place blame on Tehran, saying the operation was too sophisticated to have been carried out by the rebels.

In response to the attacks, the Pentagon on Friday announced it would be deploying a "modest" force "defensive in nature" to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to deter any Iranian aggression in the region. The Iranian government, meanwhile, has forcefully denied any involvement, accusing the U.S. of engaging in political "posturing" through its accusations. 

But Kerry, who served as secretary of state in the Obama administration, said Tehran is denying any responsibility because it needs "plausible deniability."

The Democratic diplomat commended Mr. Trump for not following the advice of foreign policy hawks to order military action that would likely spark a full-blown regional war. 

"The president I think is absolutely is actually correct to be evaluating sort of not being rushed into a corner to go to war," he said. "That is what we shouldn't do."

But Kerry stressed that tensions between the U.S. and Iran should not have reached this boiling point in the first place, saying that Tehran's more aggressive behavior in recent months stems from the "economic war" the Trump administration is waging against its longtime geopolitical adversary. 

Since taking office, Mr. Trump withdrew the U.S. from its nuclear accord with Iran that Kerry was instrumental in forging in 2015. His administration has also imposed economic sanctions against Iran, which it has accused of failing to meet the obligations set forth in 2015 agreement and of staging attacks against commercial oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

"It was entirely foreseeable that that would result in further conflict," Kerry said. "So we're seeing the unfolding of really a bankruptcy of approach."

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