Iran's top leader personally approved devastating aerial attacks on Saudi oil facilities – but insisted that Iran could likely deny the attacks, according to a new report on Wednesday night.
The alleged dismissal of Ayatollah Ali Khameni was revealed by an American official, CBS News said.
The United States has damning evidence of Iran's involvement in the form of secret satellite photos showing its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps preparing to launch Saturday's attacks from Ahvas Air Base in southwestern Iran, officials told networks.
But in a bitter twist, no one realized the significance of the surveillance images until it was too late, CBS said.
"We were caught completely off guard," said an American official.
In addition to satellite photos, circuit boards recovered from the wreckage of cruise missiles and drones can be converted to reveal the weapons fli ght trajectories to the massive oil production facility in Abqaiq and oilfields.
The air strikes released a "flood wave of flame," an American official told CBS.
The strikes – as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday called a "war act" of Iran – cut Saudi Arabia's oil production in half and sent future prices rising sharply on Monday.
The market has since stabilized in the midst of Saudi insurance that it would resume its full production.