Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said that Saudi Arabia believes Iran is responsible for the attack on two Saudi Arabian oil facilities on September 14, but that it is waiting for the investigation to be completed before assigning blame.
“We are certain it [the attack] came from the north. Once the investigation is complete, we will make the announcements and we will pin the blame. But we believe Iran is responsible because these were Iranian weapons,” said al-Jubeir at an event at the Council of Foreign Relations.
The minister’s appearance at the New York-based think tank comes the day after European countries joined the US in blaming Iran for the attacks. Iran continues to deny its involvement and insists the attacks were carried out by Yemen’s Houthis.
Al-Jubeir said that Iranian leadership makes decisions that are “aggressive, destabilizing and dangerous” and that Saudi Arabia does not believe the approach of appeasement works in dealing with Iran.
“Our position is we have to be firm with Iran. We have to come up with options on how we increase the pressure on the Iranians. You have a whole list of potential options: diplomatic, economic and military,” said al-Jubeir.
Al-Jubeir said that Saudi Arabia’s position on Iran is completely in line with the Trump administration’s position, which has been described as a “maximum pressure campaign.” It includes imposing economic sanctions aimed at driving Iran’s oil exports down.
While Saudi Arabia will avoid war at all costs, al-Jubeir said the country “will not sit with our hands tied behind our backs while the Iranians continue to attack us.”
Al-Jubeir called the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a “weak deal.” He said in order for the JCPOA to be fixed, it would need to include non-declared nuclear sites and 24/7 inspections across Iran.
Al-Jubeir noted Iran’s historical pattern of aggression against Saudi Arabia since the 1979 revolution.
“The Iranians are warmongering, not us. The Iranians are the ones who launched 260 ballistic missiles on Saudi Arabia and more than 150 drones. We did not launch any ballistic missiles, any drones. We did not plant any terrorist cells in Iran and we didn’t even fire one bullet in the direction of Iran. This has been the case since the Iranian Revolution. So we’re on the receiving end,” said al-Jubeir.
Al-Jubeir also discussed the Gulf countries’ current relations with Qatar.
“Qatar continues to fund extremists, terrorists…allowing clerics to go on television and justify suicide bombings is unacceptable,” he said.
Al-Jubeir said that the Qataris had agreed to cease and desist this behavior, and signed what is known as the Riyadh Agreement, but did not follow through.
“For five years they did not implement it and we finally said enough is enough,” said al-Jubeir.
Al-Jubeir began his diplomatic career in Washington, where he served as Special Assistant to then Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan. He was appointed ambassador to the US in 2007, with the rank of minister.
In August 2015, King Salman bin Abdulaziz appointed al-Jubeir as the Kingdom’s foreign minister.
Titled “A conversation with Adel al-Jubeir at the Council on Foreign Relations,” the discussion was moderated by CFR President Richard Haas. Al-Jubeir has previously spoken to the CFR, where he was a visiting diplomatic fellow 1994-1995.
Founded in 1921, the CFR is an “independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher.” It publishes the widely read policy magazine “Foreign Affairs.”