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Washington (CNN) - On Wednesday, President Donald Trump announced that he ordered new sanctions against Iran, the latest escalation in tensions between the two countries as US officials work to blame Iran.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the attack on Saudi oil facilities "an act of war" on Wednesday,
Pompeo, who is in Saudi Arabia to consult the next steps with the rulers of the kingdom, said: “We are blessed that there were no Americans killed in this attack, but every time you have an act of war of this nature, there is always the risk that that could happen ... This is an attack of a scale that we simply have not seen before. ”
The chief US diplomat said he is in the Middle East to build a coalition to deter Iran and said the Trump administration will use the next meeting of world leaders in the United Nations General Assembly to gather support for action against Tehran. , who denies his participation in the attack.
"It's very easy to start"
"I am sure that in New York we will talk a lot about this and that the Saudis will too," said Pompeo. “The Saudis were the attacked nation. It was in his territory. It was an act of war against them directly, and I am sure they will. ”
Pompeo's combative characterization of the attack is now that Saudi Arabia presented pieces of weapons that, he said, linked Iran with the attack, Vice President Mike Pence suggested that a military response is possible and some Republican lawmakers have asked for an answer. unambiguous ”against Iran.
But Trump, who campaigned to get the United States out of foreign struggles and has criticized US involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, faces a battle for re-election that would be complicated by a new conflict. The announcement of sanctions may indicate his desire to avoid military conflicts, analysts said, and in statements to journalists in Los Angeles on Wednesday, the president noted that it is easy to fall into a war.
"It's very easy to start," Trump said. "If we have to do something, we will do it," and added that "we will add some very important sanctions against Iran."
Substitute, not prelude
When asked if he was considering a military attack, the president said: "We will see what happens." He pointed out that "there is the last option and there are less powerful options than that ... the last option means entering, war."
The United States still does not provide definitive evidence that Iran carried out the attack, which has been attributed by Houthi rebels in Yemen.
MIRA : What are the scenarios after the attacks on Saudi oil facilities?
The allies and even Saudi Arabia have so far taken a more cautious approach, with the kingdom that unites Tehran with the attack but they have not gone as far as Pompeo to call it an act of war or say, as unidentified US officials claim, that Iran itself launched the attack from within its territory. France and the United Nations are sending researchers to the kingdom and Japan has said that there is "a high possibility" that the Houthis are really responsible.
Earlier on Wednesday, Trump tweeted that "I just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase sanctions in the country of Iran!"
Henry Rome, an Iranian analyst at the Eurasia Group, said the tweet was "important because it seems to be Trump's effort to respond to the Iranian attack with sanctions measures and not military steps."
"From my point of view, this is the substitute for a military response, not the prelude to it," said Rome.
It was not immediately clear to whom or to which sectors the new sanctions would apply. The spokesmen of the White House, the Treasury and the State Department did not offer details immediately. Trump said Wednesday that an announcement would be made in the next 48 hours, without specifying whether he would be in sanctions or not.
The United States has increased sanctions against Iran after withdrawing last year from a multinational nuclear agreement that restricted Iran's nuclear activity in exchange for a reduction in economic sanctions.
The "maximum pressure" policy of the United States has undermined the nuclear agreement, creating tensions with European allies that are trying to keep the nuclear agreement afloat. The Trump administration has sanctioned all key economic sectors in Iran, including aviation and maritime transport. And, in May, it hit the soul of Tehran's economy, sanctioning its energy exports.
The Trump administration has increased sanctions to the point that, said Rome, “at this point, the United States is brushing the bottom of the barrel with sanctions. After the decision to sanction Iranian oil in May, everything else is quite marginal. When we look at effectiveness or impact, at this time it no longer has significant sanction tools. ”
Iran, unable to obtain the economic benefits promised under the nuclear pact, has begun to violate certain aspects of the agreement.
LOOK : Trump must choose between a military attack on Iran or more sanctions for offensive against Saudi Arabia
Earlier this week, Trump seemed to anticipate a blunt response to the attacks, saying the United States was "charged and ready" to respond. But then he sounded less committed to a military response, telling reporters he was not interested in the war.
During a meeting on Monday with his national security team, Trump discussed possible military and non-military responses to the attack, including new sanctions, according to senior administration officials.
U.S. defense officials were ordered They planned possible responses to the attack on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities, but the White House is waiting for the rulers of the Kingdom to decide on a response before charting a way forward, administration officials and sources familiar with the matter told CNN.
Two US defense officials said the Pentagon was instructed to "plan" at the White House meeting, but added that no detailed options were presented.
Administration officials said a decision is not likely to be made about responding to weekend attacks until Pompeo returns to Washington.
A source familiar with the White House discussions said the administration feels that time is on its side as it draws up a case against Iran.
While Pompeo directly blamed Iran for the attack that forced Saudi-state-owned Aramco to reduce its production by half, Trump stopped dead and said he wanted to wait for a final intelligence report.
It was not clear if his announcement of sanctions indicated that the report had been completed or if it determined Iran's guilt.
READ : The Pentagon is ordered to offer possible responses to the attack on Saudi Arabia
Trump has repeatedly said that the responsibility lies with Saudi Arabia when it comes to dictating the way forward and has made it clear that he is in no hurry.
"We have to sit with the Saudis and solve something," he told reporters on Tuesday. "That was an attack against Saudi Arabia, and it was not an attack against us."
"We have many options, but I'm not looking for options at the moment," Trump said. “We want to definitely discover who did this. We are talking with Saudi Arabia ... We will see what happens. ”