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UK must stop selling arms to Saudis instead of accusing Iran: Official

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi

Iran says London must stop selling arms to Riyadh instead of accusing Tehran, after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson alleged that the Islamic Republic was involved in last week’s drone attacks on two major oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.

"The British government, instead of [making] fruitless efforts against the Islamic Republic of Iran, should take action to stop selling lethal weapons to Saudi Arabia, which is a demand of many people in the world, and should release itself from the accusation of committing war crimes against the people of Yemen," Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Monday.

Johnson said earlier in the day that his country believes Iran was behind the attacks on the Saudi oil facilities and added that London would work with the United States and European allies to de-escalate tensions in the Persian Gulf.

“The UK is attributing responsibility with a very high degree of probability to Iran for the Aramco attacks. We think it very likely indeed that Iran was indeed responsible,” Johnson told reporters on the plane while flying to New York to attend the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

On September 14, Yemen’s Ansarullah movement and their allies in the Yemeni army deployed as many as 10 drones to bomb Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities run by the Saudi state-owned oil company Aramco.

The unprecedented attack knocked out more than half of Saudi crude output, or five percent of global supply, prompting Saudi and US officials to claim without any evidence that it probably originated from Iraq or Iran.

The United States and Saudi Arabia have accused Iran of carrying out the attack on Aramco installations. Tehran, however, has rejected the allegations, with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif saying Washington seems to be shifting from a failed campaign of “maximum pressure” to one of “maximum lying” and “deceit” against the Islamic Republic.

“US & its clients are stuck in Yemen because of the illusion that weapon superiority will lead to military victory,” said Zarif on his official Twitter page.

The US-backed Saudi air campaign against neighboring Yemen has so far killed thousands of civilians, caused millions to leave or lose their homes, and sparked widespread starvation.

The Yemeni army and volunteer forces led by the country’s popular Houthi movement have attacked refineries in Saudi Arabia in the past in efforts to strike at the regime’s major economic sector. The latest attack, however, hit targets that were about 500 miles deep into the Saudi territory, in one of the largest operations the Yemeni forces have launched so far.

British arms sales to Saudi Arabia have been a major contributory factor to the conflict in Yemen.

Since the war against Yemen began, the UK has licensed the sale of at least £4.7bn ($6bn) worth of arms to Riyadh.

Apart from the UK, Saudi Arabia’s other allies, including the US, have also been providing the kingdom with weapons in its war against Yemen.  

An American think tank said in April that it has found new data showing US arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are "dramatically understated" and billions more than previously reported.

The data collected by arms trade watchdog Security Assistance Monitor (SAM) shows the US has struck at least $68.2 billion worth of deals with the two countries since they started their war in Yemen. 

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