TEHRAN — Iran on Thursday accused Saudi Arabia of distorting facts and shifting the blame for its own “crimes,” after the Saudi king slammed the Islamic Republic in a UN address.
King Salman alleged in a speech Wednesday to the UN General Assembly that Iran had “targeted” oil facilities in the Sunni-ruled kingdom last year. He also accused Iran of “expansionist activities” and “terrorism.”
Iran’s foreign ministry hit back on Thursday.
“Saudi Arabia has for years tried to escape realities and not answer for its crimes by adopting a policy of projecting the blame and distorting the facts,” spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement.
Riyadh and Washington accuse Tehran of involvement in September 2019 attacks on Saudi oil facilities claimed by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels. They also allege Tehran arms the Houthis for attacks on the kingdom. Iran denies the charges.
The Islamic Republic, for its part, accuses Saudi Arabia of committing war crimes in Yemen, where the kingdom leads a military coalition against the Shiite Huthi rebels.
In the statement, Khatibzadeh called Riyadh “the main financial and logistical supporter of terrorism in the region” and the “origin of takfiri terrorist thinking.”
Officials in Shiite Iran use the term “takfiri” to refer to Sunni jihadists.
“Continuous field and political defeats in Yemen have brought Saudi Arabia to delusion,” Khatibzadeh said.
The foreign ministry spokesman called the kingdom a “wretched creature” among Arab countries over its support for US pressure against Iran and what it said were attempts to expand ties with Iran’s arch enemy Israel.
Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic relations with Iran following 2016 attacks by demonstrators on its missions in Iran after the kingdom executed revered Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.
Tensions escalated last year over a series of attacks on tankers in sensitive Gulf waters, which Washington blamed on Tehran.
The United States has waged a campaign of “maximum pressure” against Iran since 2018, when US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from a landmark nuclear agreement and reimposed punishing sanctions.