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Trump: US 'locked and loaded' in response to drone attack

Vice President Mike Pence leaves the White House, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, after a meeting in Washington. Senior U.S. officials, including the Vice President and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, were seen at the White House Sunday afternoon for a National Security Council meeting on a Saturday attack on Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure that the U.S. has attributed to Iran. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON — Tensions are flaring in the Persian Gulf as President Donald Trump says the U.S. is “locked and loaded” to respond to a weekend drone assault on Saudi Arabia’s energy infrastructure that his aides are blaming on Iran.

The attack cut in half the kingdom’s oil production and sent crude prices spiking. It also led Trump to authorize the release of U.S. strategic reserves should they be necessary to stabilize markets.

U.S. officials offered what they said was proof that the attack was inconsistent with claims of responsibility by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels and instead pointed the finger directly at Tehran. Iran called the U.S. claims “maximum lies” and threatened American forces in the region.

Trump backpedaled on offers to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the U.N. next week.

Zeke Miller And Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press