U.S. Defends Gulf Military Buildup, Says It's 'Not Spoiling For Fight'

President Donald Trump

Saudi Aramco responded to a fire at East West Pipeline Pump station 8 which was caused by a sabotage incident using armed drones which targeted pump stations 8 and 9.

The East-West pipeline spans 1,200 kilometers from Dhahran on Saudi Arabia's Gulf coast to Yanbu on the Red Sea, allowing oil shipments from the kingdom to bypass the Strait of Hormuz.

The New York Times reported Monday that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented a plan to the president's top national security aides last week that would include sending up to 120,000 us troops to the region should Iran attack USA forces or speed up work on nuclear weapons.

Saudi Aramco has taken all necessary measures and temporarily shut down the pipeline to evaluate its condition, the report said.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates reported on Monday mysterious attacks on several vessels including oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed on Tuesday they had damaged Saudi oil pumping stations on Tuesday using drones.

The UAE on Monday identified the vessels as two crude oil tankers owned by Saudi shipping firm Bahri, a UAE-flagged fuel bunker barge and a Norwegian-registered oil products tanker. Other U.S. officials have suggested initial assessments indicate that Iran or its proxies played a hand in the attacks.

President Donald Trump withdrew the United States a year ago from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and global powers under which Tehran curbed its uranium enrichment capacity, a potential pathway to a nuclear bomb, and won sanctions relief in return.

"It reaffirms the importance of addressing all the terrorist groups carrying out such acts of sabotage, including the Iranian-backed Houthi militia in Yemen".

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Iran is insisting on exporting at least 1.5 million bpd of oil as a condition for staying in an global nuclear deal, sources with knowledge of Iran-EU talks said on May 12.

As Common Dreams reported last week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urged diplomacy in a speech detailing his nation's plan to gradually reduce compliance with some of the terms of the nuclear deal to pressure European countries to uphold their side of the agreement.

Iran has said the United States is engaging in "psychological warfare", called the U.S. military presence "a target" rather than a threat and said it will not allow its oil exports to be halted. Brent crude futures were at $70.79 a barrel at 1035 GMT, up 56 percents or 0.80%.

Oil prices nevertheless jumped on Tuesday morning after news of the drone attack coming soon after the weekend's oil tanker sabotage. It was built during the Iran-Iraq war during the early 1980s, but was later converted to natural gas.

India is helping Iran develop Chabahar Port on the Gulf of Oman for trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan, which has refused to provide New Delhi access through a land route.

The Associated Press said that Emirati officials had declined a request for its journalists to be permitted to approach the vessels up close by ship and inspect the damage.

The U.S. has recently warned ships that "Iran or its proxies" could be targeting maritime traffic in the region. America is deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf to counter alleged threats from Tehran.

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