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Donald Trump's tough talk doesn't always hold up. After Iran downed a United States drone earlier this year, while he didn't say anything publicly, he privately ordered an attack, then backed out at the last moment.
Now that the oil fields in Saudi Arabia have been attacked with many believing Iran is responsible, Trump on Sunday declared the U.S. was "locked and loaded" and waiting to respond, yet when discussing that Iran was most likely the culprit on Monday, he said he would "like to avoid" a war with Iran.
Over the weekend a drone attack hit two separate Saudi oil fields, knocking out half of the state oil company Aramco's product. They produce about 10% of the world's oil. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said early on he thought Iran was to blame, despite the Yemen Houthi rebels taking responsibility.
Late Sunday Trump tweeted, "There is reason to believe that we know the culprit," adding that the U.S. remains "locked and loaded depending on verification."
On Monday he tweeted a reminder about the downed drone. He said Iran's explanation of what happened "was a very big lie," adding, "Now they say that they had nothing to do with the attack on Saudi Arabia. We'll see?"
Later on Monday it was a different Trump. He was asked at the White House whether Iran was involved in the oil field attacks and said, "It's looking that way." Asked for a confirmation, he said, "That's being checked out right now."
He warned of the U.S. military capabilities and said it is prepared for war if necessary, then added, "With all that being said, we'd certainly like to avoid it."
"I know they want to make a deal," he said of the Iranian officials. "At some point it will work out."
However, it hasn't been working out since Trump pulled the U.S. out of the nuclear deal former President Barack Obama forged with Iran and other top countries. He then slapped them with crippling sanctions on top of it.
Iran has been looking for revenge ever since and would also like some of the other countries in the deal to help them out financially to deal with Trump's sanctions, but they're reluctant, as they don't want to also be hit with sanctions.
Trump wants to talk with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani at the upcoming United Nations for the General Assembly, but he has indicated he has no desire to meet with Trump until the sanctions are pulled.
Despite Trump's closeness with the Saudis after forging a multi-billion-dollar arms deal with the kingdom, he told reporters on Monday he has not "promised" to protect the Saudis after the aggression on the oil fie.ds, but he vowed to "sit down with the Saudis and work something out."
It was the Saudis who were ready to confirm that Iranian weapons were used in the attack on the oil fields. They said they would "forcefully respond to these aggressions," yet did not directly blame Iran nor call for retaliation.
Trump also downplayed the impact of the oil field strikes on oil prices on Monday. "They haven't risen very much, and we have the strategic oil reserves, which are massive," he said, explaining that if the reserves are released, "you'd bring it right down."
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