No matter the words being thrown around about the attack on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities, Pompeo just issued visas for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Zarif to travel to New York for the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations next week.

By Ian Horswill


Posted on September 20, 2019

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called it “an act of war” and Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, threatened an “all-out war”.

No matter the words being thrown around about the attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, Mike Pompeo has just issued visas for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Zarif to travel to New York for the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations next week.

As the host government, the US is obliged to issue visas to diplomats who serve at UN headquarters.

Mohammad Javad Zarif earlier stated Pompeo was trying to delay issuing visas for the Iranian delegation.

“@SecPompeo tries to dodge US obligation to issue visas for UN delegates by resorting to self-arrogated designation,” Zarif tweeted.

Mohammad Javad Zarif

Pompeo, maintaining his tough guy persona, while not commentating directly on Rouhani and Zarif’s visa applications said: “If you’re connected to a foreign terrorist organisation, I don’t know,” he added. “Seems to me it would be a reason to think about whether they have to be permitted to attend a meeting which is about peace.”

Zarif, speaking to CNN on Thursday, warned that any attacks on Iran will result in an “all-out war”.

“We don’t want war, we don’t want to engage in a military confrontation,” Zarif said. “But we won’t blink to defend our territory.”

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Saudi Arabia and the US alleged the attack involved cruise missiles from Iran and amounted to, as Pompeo said, “an act of war”.

After meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Pompeo tweeted that the US backs the kingdom’s “right to defend itself” and that “the Iranian regime’s threatening behaviour will not be tolerated”.

In the aftermath of the attacks, US President Donald Trump has ordered new sanctions on Iran. With an election next year, it is thought unlikely he would want to engage in an act of war despite the rhetoric.

The bombing of the oil facilities halted production of 5.7 million barrels of crude a day — more than half of Saudi Arabia’s global daily exports and more than 5% of the world’s daily crude oil production.

Oil prices rose slightly on Thursday. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark, gained 72 cents to US$64.33 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate crude settled up 2 cents at US$58.13 a barrel.

The price is still below that of Monday, when Brent closed at US$69.02 (it hit US$71.95) and West Texas US$62.9 (it hit US$63.34).