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The Latest: Official downplays imminent action against Iran

September 16, 2019
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Storage tanks are seen at the North Jiddah bulk plant, an Aramco oil facility, in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. The weekend drone attack in Buqyaq on one of the world's largest crude oil processing plants that dramatically cut into global oil supplies is the most visible sign yet of how Aramco's stability and security is directly linked to that of its owner -- the Saudi government and its ruling family. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
1 of 4
Storage tanks are seen at the North Jiddah bulk plant, an Aramco oil facility, in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. The weekend drone attack in Buqyaq on one of the world's largest crude oil processing plants that dramatically cut into global oil supplies is the most visible sign yet of how Aramco's stability and security is directly linked to that of its owner -- the Saudi government and its ruling family. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the Trump administration and the weekend drone assault in Saudi Arabia (all times local):

10:20 a.m.

A top White House official is downplaying the threat of imminent action against Iran after President Donald Trump said the U.S. is “locked and loaded” following a drone attack on Saudi Arabia that cut into global energy supplies.

Vice President Mike Pence’s Chief of Staff Marc Short told reporters at the White House Monday that the president’s language is “a reflection” that his administration is advancing policies that protect the U.S. “from these sorts of oil shots.”

Short says: “I think that ‘locked and loaded’ is a broad term that talks about the realities that” the U.S. is “safer and more secure domestically from energy independence.”

The United States has blamed Iran for the weekend assault, which halved Saudi Arabia’s oil production and threatens to fuel a regional crisis. Short said more evidence is coming and that Trump’s national security team will be meeting Monday morning.

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12:30 a.m.

Tensions are flaring in the Persian Gulf as President Donald Trump says the U.S. is “locked and loaded” to respond to a weekend drone assault on Saudi Arabia’s energy infrastructure that his aides are blaming on Iran.

The attack cut in half the kingdom’s oil production and sent crude prices spiking. It also led Trump to authorize the release of U.S. strategic reserves should they be necessary to stabilize markets.

U.S. officials offered what they said was proof that the attack was inconsistent with claims of responsibility by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels and instead pointed the finger directly at Tehran. Iran called the U.S. claims “maximum lies” and threatened American forces in the region.

Trump backpedaled on offers to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the U.N. next week.

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