Transcript for Questions raised about whether Iran is to blame for Saudi Arabia attack
We're going to start here with a developing story that has serious implications both for our national security and for the price of your next trip to the gas station. Iranian officials are denying they're behind a series of brazen drone attacks against a pair of giant oil facilities over in Saudi Arabia. These fiery attacks knocked out more than half of Saudi Arabia's oil output, which could well drive up oil prices globally. The attacks already adding tensions between the white house and Iran. Overnight secretary of state Mike Pompeo directly accusing Iran of mounting the assault. So does this situation bring America closer to confrontation with Iran? And what are the short-term implications for your wallet? We have team coverage this morning. Steve ganyard and George Stephanopoulos standing by for analysis but we begin at the white house with Stephanie Ramos. Stephanie, good morning. Reporter: Whit, good morning. Here's the big question. Was Iran behind the attacks on the world's largest oil refinery in Saudi Arabia? President trump telling Saudi Arabian leaders they have every right to defend themselves. The pressure in the region only intensifying. More than 20 drones attacked the world's largest oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia and a major oil field sparking massive fires. Flames seen here glowing Saturday. The smoke billowing in these satellite images. Houthi rebels in Yemen claiming responsibility for the attack. President trump calling the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman Saturday to offer his support for Saudi Arabia's self-defense. The white house said in a statement, but but while the white house hasn't publicly blamed anyone for the attack on the Saudi oil facilities, secretary of state Mike Pompeo is calling out Iran tweeting, Tehran is behind nearly 100 attacks on Saudi Arabia. Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen. We call on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran's attacks. The effect of these latest attacks already rippling through Saudi Arabia. Saudi aramco says these latest attacks resulted in production suspension of 5.7 million barrels of crude oil per day. Roughly 5% of global oil production. The disruption could mean a spike in oil prices if Saudis can't turn it back on quickly which could eventually mean higher gasoline prices at home. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo also says the United States will work with its allies to ensure Iran is held accountable for its aggressions. Meanwhile, a source also tells ABC news Saudi Arabia is threatening to raise oil prices because they're having a difficult time trying to stop those drone attacks. Back over to you guys. A lot of questions. Stephanie Ramos at the white house. We want to bring in ABC news contributor Steve ganyard, a former Marine Corps fighter pilot who also served in the state department. Steve, thanks so much for joining us on this important story. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo pointed the finger directly at Iran. Given that tensions were already escalating between the two countries with the U.S. Launching a maximum pressure campaign against Iran and the absence of a nuclear deal, give us some context on the significance of these attacks. Yeah, whit, what a difference a few days makes. Just last week, late in the week the administration was signaling that they were willing to consider releasing some of the pressure the sanctions have placed on the Iranian economy. They've talked about maybe meeting with the Iranians at the U.N. Later this month. Well, that's all gone and probably gone for a long time. So this is a very big escalation by the Iranians. They'd attacked things like oil pipelines but this is oil infrastructure and as Stephanie said, taking 5% of the world's oil supply off the market is a very big escalatory step. And inside Saudi Arabia. Let's talk about the drones that were used here. They seem to be getting more sophisticated and effective. What does this attack say about the drones' capability and the threat they pose? The interesting thing is that this is an asymmetric response. So these are $10,000, $20,000 drones that are defeating air defense systems that cost hundreds of millions of dollars so it's a very cheap, very effective way. We see the result of what 20 drones can do but it's a difficult thing to attack. Even now the U.S. Military is just rolling out the capability to take down these drones and they'll do things like go after their guidance system. They'll use lasers to shoot them out of the sky or they'll actually have other hunter drones that will knock these drones down but it's a very difficult asymmetric threat that nobody in the world really has come to grips with yet. Now, president trump says the U.S. Supports Saudi Arabia's right to protect itself, but what steps could the U.S. Take from here, and how likely is it that we could see a military strike as a response? A lot of questions, whit. I don't think we'll see a military response right off the bat. Maybe at some point the administration will feel that they need to push back against the Iranians. But when the oil markets open tonight, they're going to be roiled. We may see a $10 increase in the price of a barrel of oil but I think what we have here is something where the administration will want to calm the waters, make sure that the global economy doesn't get roiled by this event, but it will be the first time that we see what is the new trump administration's approach to the rest of the world without John Bolton. Absolutely. Steve ganyard, we appreciate your analysis. Thank you. Steve and whit, thank you very much. Let's bring in George Stephanopoulos. You heard Steve reference John Bolton, the outgoing national security adviser, who was quite hawkish. A lot of people see this story and think, though, are we headed inevitable, inexorably toward war with -- Could it escalate out of control? To pick up on where Steve left off, this idea of easing sanctions on Iran to take a meeting with rouhani was one of the final clashes between president trump and John Bolton. The president seemed to indicate he wanted that meeting. As Steve said that's off the table right now. What some of the president's allies including Lindsey graham are putting on the table, they say an attack on Iran's oil refineries should be on the table. Whenever you're having talks like this and tensions rising in that area, there is always the 46 chance it could spin out of control, lead to a military conflict but I agree with Steve, right now not likely. Worth noting the last time we were close to launching a retaliatory attack the president pulled back at the last minute. Let's take a step closer to home. A few days away from the democratic debate among the presidential candidates. Expertly co-moderated by George Stephanopoulos. Thank you. Let's talk about where we are after having had a minute to digest it. Do you think Thursday night changed the state of the race at all? I don't think it changed a lot but, of course, that on its own is change as you're getting this much closer to the votes in Iowa and New Hampshire coming up at the beginning of the year. I think overall if you look back, Joe Biden had a strong first half of the debate, petered out a bit in the second but probably eased some fears from some of his supporters. I think Elizabeth Warren, she's had a lot of momentum particularly on the ground in Iowa, and nothing happened I think on Thursday night that would stop that momentum right now. I think all the people that are looking to break out from the pack, I think they all did pretty well, but I didn't think you saw any kind of a breakout performance so I think that idea that not much has changed in the immediate aftermath of the debate is probably right but you also see that the continuing fault lines are revealed in that debate between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren who are calling for political revolutions, transformation. The moderates on the stage who think they may be going too far, Beto O'rourke put out a lot on guns with that call for mandatory buybacks. Some Democrats concerned about that so I think you see issues that are going to linger going forward, but immediate political impact, doesn't seem like a lot of change. George, thank you very much. Always great to see you on a Sunday morning. I want to remind everyone George has a big show this morning. He's going to go one-on-one with 2 of the 2020 candidates including mayor Pete buttigieg and senator Amy klobuchar and senator Ted Cruz on capitol hill. That's all coming up on "This
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