A satellite image showing damage to oil/gas Saudi Aramco infrastructure at Khurais, in Saudi Arabia. September 15, 2019. (Reuters)

June 15, 2020

A unique internal component enabled UN investigators to prove that cruise missiles and drones used to attack Saudi Arabia last year were Iranian.

The UN examined debris from weapons used in strikes on an oil facility in Afif in May, on Abha International Airport in June and August, and on the Saudi Aramco oil processing plants in Khurais and Abqaiq in September.

“The secretariat assesses that the cruise missiles and/or parts thereof used in the four attacks are of Iranian origin,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote in a report to the Security Council. Drones used in the May and September attacks were also “of Iranian origin,” Guterres said.

The strikes against Aramco facilities caused extensive damage and briefly interrupted production of half the Kingdom’s oil output. France, Germany and Britain joined the US in September last year in accusing Iran of carrying out the attacks. Tehran has denied any involvement.

However, the UN investigation “confirms what we knew before,” security analyst Dr. Theodore Karasik told Arab News.

“These missiles are consistent with Iranian-designed systems, particularly internal components that can be traced back to Tehran’s production lines, or from illicit imports for its indigenous arms industry,” said Karasik, of Gulf State Analytics in Washington.

“Forensic work shows that these Iranian missiles contain a specific type of gyroscope that was found in missile wreckage after the attacks on Saudi Arabia.  The same gyroscopes have been found in maritime interdiction operations in and around the Gulf of Oman and the Gulf of Aden.

“The gyroscopes, which give the missiles their unique capability, are a trademark of Iran’s missile program.

“The launch of these missiles from northern Yemen and southern Iraq, as determined by telemetry models and data, seals the case that these attacks on Saudi Arabia were conducted by Iran in violation of international law.”

UN investigators also examined weapons seized by the US off the coast of Yemen in November 2019 and February this year, destined for Iran-backed Houthi militias.

Guterres’ report said some of those weapons, such as anti-tank missiles, were of Iranian origin, and others, such as optical weapons sights, had been delivered to Iran. The UN chief urged member states to “avoid provocative rhetoric and actions that may have a negative impact on regional stability.”

Meanwhile the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen said on Saturday it had intercepted and destroyed a ballistic missile targeting the border city of Najran. The coalition said the missile was fired from the Yemeni city of Saada, and some people were slightly injured by fragments of the weapon when it was destroyed.

Arab News

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Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.