An American report revealed Wednesday that Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei had approved the attack against two Saudi Aramco oil facilities last week.
He gave his blessing “but only on the condition that it be carried out in a way that made it possible to deny Iranian involvement,” a US official told CBS News.
Saudi Arabia on Wednesday displayed wreckage of Iranian cruise missiles and drones. The circuit boards can be reverse engineered to determine the exact route the weapons flew, said the report.
“But US officials said the most damning evidence is still unreleased satellite photos showing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard making preparations for the attack at Ahvaz Air Base in southwestern Iran,” it added.
The satellite photos were of no use in stopping the attack since their significance was not realized until after the fact, explained the report.
“We were caught completely off guard,” one US official said.
The Trump administration and Saudi Arabia have pointed the finger at Iran for the September 14 raids, which hit the world's biggest crude oil processing facility and initially knocked out half of Saudi output.
The French army spokesman said it sent seven experts to Saudi Arabia to join an investigation.
UN officials monitoring sanctions on Iran and Yemen are also helping probe the attack.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the attacks, which he described as an “act of war” against Saudi Arabia, would be a major focus of next week’s annual UN General Assembly meeting.
He had arrived in Jeddah on Wednesday for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense.