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Iran’s foreign minister warns of “all-out war”

TEHRAN, Iran: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned on Thursday that any attack by the United States or Saudi Arabia on Iran will result in an “all-out war”.

Zarif gave these remarks as tensions in the Gulf continued to escalate after attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure halted the production of about five percent of the world’s oil supply.

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for Saturday’s strikes on Saudi’s oil facilities, but the United States alleged the attack involved cruise missiles from Iran and amounts to “an act of war”.

The US has said its military is “locked and loaded” to respond against the perpetrators.

More: We are prepared but don’t want war with Iran: Trump

“We don’t want war, we don’t want to engage in a military confrontation,” Zarif said on Thursday.

“But we won’t blink to defend our territory,” he added.

Asked about the consequence of “an American or Saudi military strike on Iran”, Zarif responded: “an all-out war”.

Saudi Arabia, which has been bogged down in a bloody five-year conflict in neighbouring Yemen, said on Wednesday that Iran “unquestionably sponsored” the attacks and the weapons used were Iranian-made – but did not directly blame its regional rival.

“They’re making that up,” Zarif responded. “Now they want to pin the blame on Iran, in order to achieve something. And that is why I’m saying this is agitation for war because it’s based on lies, it’s based on deception.”

Iran has repeatedly denied US and Saudi accusations of its involvement in Saturday’s strikes, saying the Houthis hit the oil facilities in response to the Saudi-Emirati-led military coalition’s ongoing attacks in Yemen.

The strikes on Saudi energy giant Aramco’s Abqaiq processing plant and Khurais oilfield halved the kingdom’s oil output.

More: Oil prices soar after attacks on Saudi facilities

A senior advisor to Iran’s top authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called on Gulf countries to “come to their senses”, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported.

“They [US and Saudi Arabia] have realized that playing with the tail of a lion is highly dangerous and that if they take action against Iran at any time, they know there will be no tomorrow for them in the region,” Fars quoted Hossein Dehghan as saying.

After meeting with allies in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said there was an “enormous consensus in the region” that Iran carried out Saturday’s attacks, despite its denials.

In a tweet, Zarif accused US allies and some American officials of trying to “deceive” President Donald Trump into entering a war with Iran.

“For their own sake they should pray that they won’t get what they seek,” he said.

The US military said on Thursday it was consulting with Saudi Arabia on ways to mitigate threats.

A Pentagon spokesman, speaking at a news briefing, declined to say whether the US military believed the drone and missile attack was launched from Iranian territory, deferring to Saudi Arabia’s ongoing assessment.

“We’re not going to get ahead of them on that,” spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said.

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