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Europe Mulls Collective Response To Attack On Saudi Oil Facilities As Fingers Point To Iran

This satellite overview handout image obtained September 16, 2019 courtesy of the US Government shows a pre-strike image on January 24, 2019, before damage to oil/gas infrastructure from weekend drone attacks at Khurais oil field on September 14, 2019 in

Three days after attacks on key Saudi oil installations, Europe is mulling a collective response while fingers continue to point at Iran as the culprit.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have agreed to work with international partners on a collective response and on de-escalating tensions in the region, reports from London say.

U.S. President Donald Trump has blamed Iran for the attacks on the Saudi oil facilities the eastern regions of the Kingdom.

In the latest development, CBS News has quoted a senior U.S. official as saying that drones and cruise missiles used in the attack were launched from southern Iran, at the northern end of the Persian Gulf, however, Saudi radars failed to detect them as they were pointed southwards, to prevent attacks from Yemen.

Meanwhile, Reports from Berlin say that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on the signatories of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to curb Iran's nuclear activities.

Merkel's call apparently addresses the Unite States as the only signatory to the JCPOA that has left the deal. Speaking at a news conference in Berlin, Merkel said: ""We believe that the deal to stop Iran from acquiring military nuclear capabilities is a building block we need to get back to," Reuters quoted her as saying on Tuesday.

Incidentally, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has also made a similar call on the same day during a speech in Tehran in which he absolutely ruled out any talks between Iran and the U.S. officials that was being discussed to take place during the upcoming UN General Assembly meeting in New York, later in September.

Khamenei, however, stressed that the United States can take part in meetings with Iran and other parties to the JCPOA if Washington returns to the deal.

The position is consistent with President Hassan Rouhani's stance on the issue.

Merkel, added, "There is also a long list of other burdens coming from Iran like the ballistic missiles program and its engagement in Syria," adding that "In recent days tensions in the region rose and Germany will always be in favor of de-escalation and long-term solutions are only possible through a political process."

In the meantime, U.S. officials have shared intelligence with Riyadh indicating that Iran was the culprit behind the attack Saudi Arabia's oil installations, as the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, although it noted that U.S. assessment of the origin of the attacks has not been shared publicly.

Saturday's strikes on Abqaiq, the world's largest oil processing plant, and the Khurais oilfield have caused a 5.7 million barrels per day decline in global oil production, which amounts to some 6 percent of the world's daily output.

Earlier a U.S. official had told ABC News that Iran had fired " more than 20 drones and at least a dozen missiles," in the strike against Saudi oil facilities.

Map locating attacks at Saudi Arabian oil facilities Abqaiq and Khurais
Map locating attacks at Saudi Arabian oil facilities Abqaiq and Khurais

However, Saudi officials have said they still do not have conclusive evidence to indicate that the attacks were launched from Iran. But "US officials said they planned to share more information with the Saudis in the coming days," the WSJ reported.

The Saudis said Iranian weapons were used in the attack, but stopped short of directly blaming Tehran for the strikes.

Tehran supports Houthi rebels who have been fighting the Saudis during the past four and a half years, and who have officially claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack.

Meanwhile, oil prices that skyrocketed on Monday have declined on Tuesday following comments by analysts expecting Saudi output to recover sooner than previously estimated.

President Donald Trump has said that the United States was ready to help Saudi Arabia, but will wait for a "definitive" determination on who was responsible.

"I'm not looking to get into new conflict, but sometimes you have to," he said. "That was a very large attack, and it could be met by an attack many, many times larger."