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UN Chief Reportedly Links Iran To Saudi Oil Attacks, But Russia Still Wants To Lift Arms Embargo

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A Saudi military officer walks by what was described as the remains of Iranian cruise missiles and drones used in an attack that targeted the heart of Saudi Arabia's oil industry in September 2019.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has told the Security Council in a report quoted by Reuters that cruise missiles used in attacks on Saudi oil facilities last year were of Iranian origin.

Reuters said it had seen the report delivered by the UN chief and that several items recovered in U.S. seizures of weapons and related materiel in November 2019 and February 2020 also came from Iran.

In a statement carried by Iran's state media on June 12, the Foreign Ministry denied the allegations, saying they "appear to have been made under political pressure" from the United States and Saudi Arabia.

The ministry noted that the report came "at a time when the United States is working to...extend an arms embargo against Iran."

Though the report has yet to be made public, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov reiterated Moscow’s view that the UN-imposed arms embargo that is due to expire in October "should not be extended."

The report would represent a change from the last assessment by Guterres in December 2019, when he said the United Nations at that point had been unable to confirm Iran's involvement in drone and cruise-missile attacks on two Saudi oil facilities.

The attacks knocked out half of the kingdom's crude production and fueled a spike in oil prices. Saudi Arabia, as well as U.S., and European officials, has accused Iran of responsibility for the September 14 bombardment.

Guterres reports to the Security Council every six months on the implementation of an arms embargo on Iran and other restrictions that remain in place after Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with six world powers.

Reuters quoted Guterres as telling the Security Council that some items found had design characteristics similar to those produced by a commercial entity in Iran, or bear Persian markings, and that some were delivered to the country between February 2016 and April 2018.

He added that "these items may have been transferred in a manner inconsistent" with a 2015 Security Council resolution that enshrines Tehran's deal with world powers to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons.

"The secretariat assesses that the cruise missiles and/or parts thereof used in the four attacks are of Iranian origin," Guterres wrote in the report.

The Security Council is due to discuss Guterres's report later this month.

With reporting by Reuters and Interfax
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