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Trump says US 'locked and loaded' in response to Saudi oil facilities attack

Tensions are flaring in the Persian Gulf after US President Donald Trump said on Sunday the United States was “locked and loaded” for a potential response to the attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities.

"There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!” Trump said on Twitter.

The attack, which halved the kingdom’s oil production and sent crude prices spiking, led Trump to authorise the release of US strategic reserves should they be necessary to stabilise markets.

The tweets on Sunday followed a National Security Council meeting at the White House and hours after US officials offered what they said was proof that the attack was inconsistent with claims of responsibility by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebels and instead pointed the finger directly at Tehran.

A US official said all options, including a military response, were on the table, but added that no decisions had been made. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the internal deliberations.

Iran called the US claims “maximum lies” and threatened American forces in the region. The attack dimmed hopes for potential nuclear talks between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the UN General Assembly this week.

Earlier, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had also said there was no evidence the attack came from Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Houthis for over four years in a conflict widely seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and rival Iran.

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