Saudi Arabia has shared intelligence with American officials that suggests Iran could be preparing for an imminent attack on the kingdom, three U.S. officials said Tuesday.
The heightened concerns about a potential attack on Saudi Arabia as the Biden administration is criticizing Tehran for its crackdown on widespread protests and condemning it for sending hundreds of drones — as well as technical support — to Russia for use in its war in Ukraine, reports The Associated Press.
“We are concerned about the threat picture, and we remain in constant contact through military and intelligence channels with the Saudis,” the National Security Council said in a statement. “We will not hesitate to act in the defense of our interests and partners in the region.”
Saudi Arabia did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Nor did Iran’s mission to the United Nations.
One of the officials who confirmed the intelligence sharing described it as a credible threat of an attack “soon or within 48 hours.” No U.S. embassy or consulate in the region has issued alerts or guidance to Americans in Saudi Arabia or elsewhere in the Middle East based on the intelligence. The officials were not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Asked about reports of the intelligence shared by the Saudis, Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, said U.S. military officials “are concerned about the threat situation in the region.”
“We’re in regular contact with our Saudi partners, in terms of what information they may have to provide on that front,” Ryder said. “But what we’ve said before, and I’ll repeat it, is that we will reserve the right to protect and defend ourselves no matter where our forces are serving, whether in Iraq or elsewhere.”
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said America was “concerned about the threat picture,” without elaborating.
The Wall Street Journal first reported on the Saudis sharing the intelligence earlier on Tuesday. Iran has alleged without providing evidence that Saudi Arabia and other rivals are fomenting the dissent on its streets by ordinary Iranians.
Of particular ire is protest coverage by Iran International, a London-based, Farsi-language satellite news channel once majority-owned by a Saudi national.