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To Find Clues In Saudi Oil Attacks, U.S. Examines Missile And Drone Parts

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The New York Times

By Eric Schmitt, Julian E. Barnes and David D. Kirkpatrick

To Find Clues In Saudi Oil Attacks, U.S. Examines Missile And Drone Parts

WASHINGTON — American investigators are examining missile circuit boards recovered after strikes against Saudi oil facilities to determine the trajectory of the attack — and whether it originated from Iran — as the Trump administration debates how, and whether, to retaliate.

Analysts are poring over satellite imagery of the damage sites, and assessing radar tracks of at least some of the low-flying cruise missiles that were used. Communication intercepts from before and after the attacks are being reviewed to see if they implicate Iranian officials.

Perhaps most important, forensic analysis is underway of missile and drone parts from the attack sites. The Saudis have recovered pristine circuit boards from one of the cruise missiles that fell short of its target, providing forensics specialists the possibility of tracing the missile’s point of origin, according to a senior American official briefed on the intelligence.

One theory gaining traction among American officials is that the cruise missiles were launched from Iran and programmed to fly around the northern Persian Gulf through Iraqi air space instead of directly across the gulf where the United States has much better surveillance, one senior official said. In the hours before the attacks, American intelligence detected unusual activity at military bases in southwest Iran that would be consistent with preparations for strikes, another senior American official said.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/17/world/middleeast/iran-attacks-saudi-oil.html