Iran rebuffs US false allegations of drone attacks

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Yemeni-manufactured drone – used to target Saudi oil facilities

IRAN has rebuffed US accusations that it launched the drone attack that cut Saudi Arabia’s oil output in half, as a senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander warned Washington that Tehran is ready for war.

Allegations that Iran was behind the drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities are ‘unsubstantiated’ and false, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Seyyed Abbas Mousavi stated on Sunday.

He also said officials in Washington are accusing Iran in order to tarnish its image on the world stage in preparation for ‘future actions’ against Tehran.

The Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility for sending 10 armed drones to hit two Saudi oil refineries on Saturday.

The attacks caused massive fires and other damage to the sites, which halved the kingdom’s oil output.

The Houthis previously admitted to launching similar drone and rocket attacks against Riyadh, some of which were directed at oil pumping stations.

The Saudis have been waging a devastating aerial bombing campaign in civil war-torn Yemen, where they intervened in 2015 on behalf of ousted President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, however, squarely blamed Iran.

The commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, warned that Tehran is fully prepared to retaliate if attacked.

‘Everybody should know that all American bases and their vessels within a distance of up to 2,000 kilometres (from Iran) are within the range of our missiles.’

Brigadier Hajizadeh made the remarks in a televised talk show on Sunday, saying: ‘In addition to US bases in the region, we have all their vessels, including aircraft carriers and warships, under range of our missiles to a radius of 2,000 kilometres, and are constantly monitoring them.’

He added: ‘The Americans thought that they could get out of our missile range if they stayed 400 kilometres outside our territorial waters.

‘However, no matter where they are, if a conflict is ignited, their warships will be the first to be targeted by our fire.’

In August, Hajizadeh said that Iran ranked first in the field of missile technology among the Middle Eastern countries and stood superior at a global level.

‘Today, we rank first in the missile technology at the regional level and are placed among the few global powers in this regard,’ he said.

Tehran dismissed the US’s claim of Iranian involvement in the Yemeni drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities, saying Washington seems to be shifting from a failed campaign of ‘maximum pressure’ to one of ‘maximum lying’ and ‘deceit’ against the Islamic Republic.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded in a tweet on Sunday to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s claim that Tehran had ‘launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply’ and ‘is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia.’

Pompeo’s rant came after Yemeni armed forces conducted the large-scale drone operation on Saudi Arabia’s Aramco oil facilities in response to Riyadh’s years-long military aggression, causing a partial halt in crude and gas production from the world’s top oil exporter.

The top US diplomat, however, falled short of offering any evidence to substantiate his claim.

Zarif said Pompeo is now resorting to a campaign of ‘maximum deceit’ against Iran after the administration he serves failed to achieve the desired results from its anti-Iran ‘maximum pressure’ policy – which has seen Washington impose the toughest of economic sanctions against the Iranian nation.

‘US and its clients are stuck in Yemen because they are under the illusion that weapons superiority would lead to military victory,’ said Zarif.

The top Iranian diplomat further drew attention to a four-point peace proposal that Tehran submitted to the United Nations in April 2015 in an effort to help end the conflict in Yemen.

‘Blaming Iran won’t end disaster. Accepting our April 15 proposal to end war and begin talks may,’ Zarif added.

The Iranian proposal calls for an immediate ceasefire and end to all foreign military attacks; humanitarian assistance; a resumption of broad national dialogue and ‘establishment of an inclusive national unity government.’

American Senator Lindsey Graham has said the US should consider bombing Iranian oil refineries if Tehran continues boosting its nuclear enrichment to higher grades.

‘It is now time for the US to put on the table an attack on Iranian oil refineries if they continue their provocations or increase nuclear enrichment,’ said the veteran Republican lawmaker from South Carolina on Twitter Saturday.

‘Iran will not stop their misbehaviour until the consequences become more real, like attacking their refineries, which will break the regime’s back,’ added the fervently pro-Israel Senator, who sits on the Senate foreign Relations Committee and has established himself as a leading detractor against the Islamic Republic.

The US-backed Saudi air campaign against neighbouring Yemen has so far killed thousands of civilians, caused millions to leave or lose their homes, and sparked widespread starvation.

The Yemeni army and volunteer forces led by the country’s popular Houthi movement have attacked refineries in Saudi Arabia in the past in efforts to strike at the despotic regime’s major economic sectors.

Saturday’s drone strike, however, hit targets that were about 500 miles deep into Saudi territory and was one of the largest operations the Yemeni forces have launched so far.

Former Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon, Ahmad Dastmalchian, warned of his country’s counter strategies against western pressures, and said sanctions are the last weapon in Washington’s arsenal used against Iran.

‘These sanctions are the last weapon that the enemies have used and when the sanctions become ineffective, the enemy will be disarmed,’ Dastmalchian said, addressing a meeting in Tehran on Sunday.

He also blasted western states for defying their nuclear deal undertakings despite Tehran’s full compliance in the multilateral nuclear agreement.

‘If the other sides implement their undertakings, Iran will remain in the nuclear deal, otherwise it will gradually modify its undertakings,’ Dastmalchian warned.

  • A senior Iranian official says the country has a bright future in quantum physics as more research centres and labs are being built to encourage young Iranians to enter the field.

Head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI), Ali Akbar Salehi, said on Saturday that Iran will open its first large laboratory dedicated to new fields of science including stem cells and quantum physics within a year.

‘Related experts and managers are working day and night to finish this job as soon as possible,’ said Salehi while addressing a summer course on quantum sciences and technology in Tehran.

The official said Iran had compiled its own roadmap for development of quantum technologies, saying the document would come into force once it is ratified by the parliament and other related government bodies.

He said Iran was willing to keep its pace with a fast-growing quantum science in the world, saying expert groups had been formed in the AEOI to focus on various fields where quantum sciences are increasingly applied, including in communication, imaging, and in making new computers and sensors.

Salehi said his organisation had also launched a public information campaign about quantum physics and its role in the future of the world, adding that textbooks are being prepared for schools and universities with a special focus on quantum mechanics.

He said a successful entanglement experiment for photons carried out by AEOI scientists last summer had hugely boosted the morale in the field.

Salehi said Iranian scientists could replicate the ‘quick’ progress achieved in the field of nuclear technology in the country over the past years.

‘Quantum technology is moving so fast, that if we don’t act we’ll regret it,’ he said.