CBS news: Khamenei ‘approved’ attack on Saudi oil facilities, but only if Iran could plausibly deny it

“U.S. officials said the most damning evidence is still unreleased satellite photos showing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard making preparations,” says CBS.

By World Israel News Staff and AP

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, “approved” Saturday’s attack on Saudi oil facilities but “only on the condition that it be carried out in a way that made it possible to deny Iranian involvement,” CBS News reports, citing a U.S. official as its source.

“U.S. officials said the most damning evidence is still unreleased satellite photos showing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard making preparations for the attack at Ahvaz Air Base in southwestern Iran,” says CBS.

From there, according to the report, “the weapons flew through Kuwaiti airspace some 400 miles to their targets in Saudi Arabia. The satellite photos were of no use in stopping the attack since their significance was not realized until after the fact.”

CBS quotes a U.S. official as saying: “We were caught completely off guard.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was asked Wednesday on his way to Saudi Arabia how it was possible that the kingdom could have dropped its guard, failing to stop any of the low-flying cruise missiles or armed drones that struck the Abqaiq oil processing center – the largest of its kind in the world – and the Khurais oil field.

Even the best air defenses sometimes fail, he replied.

“We want to make sure that infrastructure and resources are put in place such that attacks like this would be less successful than this one appears to have been,” said the secretary of state, adding  “this is an attack of a scale we’ve just not seen before.”

He called the strike “an act of war” but did not say what military response might follow.

President Donald Trump, in California on a political fundraising trip, said, “We know very much what happened.” But he, too, was noncommittal on whether he would order U.S. military retaliation.

Saudi Arabia has multiple batteries of advanced U.S. Patriot air defense missiles, which are meant to shoot down hostile aircraft or shorter-range ballistic missiles. Patriots provide “point defense” – not protection of wide swaths of territory – and it’s unclear whether any were positioned close to the oil sites.