Former State Department official talks repercussions of Iran

Suzanne Maloney, deputy director of the foreign policy program at the Brookings Institute, explains how the oil facility attack will effect Iran's foreign policy.
6:39 | 09/16/19

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Transcript for Former State Department official talks repercussions of Iran
We start with the biggest disruption to the world's oil supply ever in recorded history. Saudi Arabia over the weekend cut 50% of its output after that audacious aerial attack. Which struck Saturday night's and facilities there in that country oil prices this morning spiking 10%. I'm world markets are expected to drive up. I gasoline prices as well bad news for American drivers there are now US and Saudi officials. Are weighing their options and how to respond will there be a counterstrike will be US military get involved. Could we be headed for a deeper conflict with Iran and joined by our senior pentagon reporter Louis Martinez. And former State Department official Brookings Institution deputy. Foreign policy program director Suzanne Maloney an expert on Iran also think you both for being here. But Suzanne I want to start with you here this is obviously a pretty big disruption. In the oil markets at wanna get your take on how serious this is what is whose impact do you think American consumers will feel because of this. Let's quit serious because it's taken off a large proportion of the spare capacity in world oil from the market which means that if there are disruptions elsewhere in the world. As a result of geopolitical of and sore. Other types the logistical issues that there will be a real supply crunch which have and in fact been the case in energy markets for quite a number of years. I think for the moment that price spikes are manageable and not likely to see a dramatic jump in gasoline prices that were paying at the pump. But I do think that this is a real concern because this facility was such an obvious target it has been targeted by extremists in the past. And their want to be real questions about why the air defense and other sort of protective systems failed to prevent this attack. Yet. Really sit has surprised a lot of foreign policy experts. And how bold the strike was inside. A Saudi Arabia let's go to Lou we Martinez at the Pentagon really the US is obviously zeroing in on Iran here. On the and in fact as you know the saudis for the first time today admitted that are running and weapons were the ones the cruise missiles and drones that causes attack. I'm I'm struck but the fact of the saudis have stopped short of actually blame Mitterrand they've stopped short of calling for retaliation. Mayor exactly right and is a fine line right that's pointing that these are Iranian weapons and they Woodson we're seeing that they were not fired from Yemen. So indirectly saying that in fact they are coming from Iran but we are we're talking US officials or much blunter than that. On they are saying that there is no doubt that these weapons came from inside Iran. Flu whatever distance it was so presumably over the Persian gulf towards these two facilities and the Saudi Arabian. Peninsula. And so therefore they are saying that it was a mix drones including cruise missiles. On their absence of an unconfirmed social media images out there on the scene to indicate that there are some wreckage of a cruise missile and maybe did not make it 21 and it's and that she targets. Comedy and officials being much more blunt in saying that yes this was Ian Iran that was behind these attacks and not only that but they actually launched them from inside their territory. Almond there's no way that they would he couldn't on this because of the way beyond their capabilities yes they look these are life long range drones and missiles but not to the level of such a complex attack which is what. We've seen in this case. Now we know this Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has just put out a tweet. Is seen that at this point in time they are now calling on international experts from the United Nations to come into that country. To gather facts to participate you'll participate in the investigations. Also struck by the back half of this tweet the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia says we strongly stress that it. How were able to defend our own territory in our people respond strongly Suzanne it's sort of sounds like. The saudis are calling on president trump to doubt on the right rhetoric put put on the brakes. After his tweet he's locked and loaded eager to get in and get involved in this conflict but Iran. Adding that's quite correct they interpretation of this between the statements that we seem from the kingdom today. Are very much in line with the traditional Saudi position which is a lot of tough rhetoric on Iran. But ultimately some aversion to mixing it up directly in terms of either their own bilateral. Military conflict. Or seen United States engage in a way that might spiral quickly into a broader military conflict in the region. There been past incidents. You know quite of quite quite a few years ago. A terrorist attack that was ultimately traced by the Clinton administration to the Iranians. This took place in Saudi Arabia in nineteen American service people were killed in that attack. The saudis ultimately. We're very careful and and restrained in their cooperation with the Clinton administration. Precisely because they didn't want to instigate a war between the United States and Iran. And we should say just moments ago president from himself weighing in on this seems maybe he read at the saudis tweet he said in the Oval Office toward Jonathan Karl. Our we'd certainly like to avoid a conflict with Iran he said the US is prepared for war with Iran that would like to avoid it. I dialing back Lou we back to you because we do know. The president's comments notwithstanding that he convened a meeting today with principal members of the National Security Council has he wanted the options he wanted to know what he could do militarily. What can you tell us about about that me. Well we're being told him and is at that meeting wrapped up earlier this morning. Bombing that no decisions remain a wanted to things that's important though is that is not just military options must not forget that the Treasury Department also was requested to present its options. As well as the State Department that's typical for situations like this because this is a whole of government response. Also when you do something like that yes military options are presented and and the president could decide at some point but this was a principal me so and unnecessarily him being involved there today though. I wouldn't see a tweet from. Secretary asked for here at the Pentagon saying that when he was there he briefed the president as well. I'm but it from work were gathering ominous scans scenes. Any. Moon would Ford from that meeting is going to be like let's see where the saudis go from here because that's we have been hearing from officials before this meeting. On that the United States wanted to get a clear sense of where Saudi Arabia was headed with this and then the United States would kind of take its cues from the air based on their response. And just in the last few minutes here does seem like both sides perhaps taking a step back from the brink maybe some good news for conflict of border conflict in the region. But we will be keeping a close eye with a Martinez at the Pentagon thank you so much Suzanne Maloney. Over at the Brookings Institution here in Washington and Iran experts think he Suzanne for for joining us as well.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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