Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said President Donald Trump “does not want war” with Iran while speaking at the U.S. Central Command in Florida Tuesday.
Pompeo’s comments come after speculation that the president would declare war with Iran after the U.S. military released footage Monday that it claims shows Iran removing an unexploded mine from an oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman.
“President Trump does not war,” the secretary of state said in his remarks, “and we will continue to communicate that message while doing the things that are necessary to protect American interests in the region.” (RELATED: US Blaming Iran For Bombings In Gulf Of Oman)
“It’s been our mission since the beginning of this administration to convince the Iranian regime not to move forward with their nuclear program and not to continue to engage in development of their missiles and the all the other malign activities they’ve been engaged in around the world. That’s why we put in place the pressure campaign,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo continued that while the campaign has been successful, Americans should remember that Iran has posed a consistent nuclear threat for “40 years,” even after Obama and former Secretary of State John Kerry signed the Iran Nuclear Deal, and “to reestablish deterrence is a challenge but one I know the Trump administration is up to.”
After pulling out of the Obama-era Iran Nuclear Deal, Trump designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization in April to escalate the United States’s pressure campaign against Iran. The president said his administration would “continue to increase financial pressure and raise the costs on the Iranian regime for its support of terrorist activity until it abandons its malign and outlaw behavior.”
On Monday, two oil tankers were attacked by Iran, according to the military, which resulted in a 4% increase on oil prices. (RELATED: Video Shows Iran Removing A Mine From An Oil Tanker, US Says)
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on the same day of the attack that “America could not do anything” to stop Iran from creating nuclear weapons before his country was blamed for the strike. Tehran, however, has denied allegations and pinned responsibility for the destruction of the tankers on an enemy country in an attempt to ruin Iran’s relationships with the U.S. and its allies.
Trump responded to the attacks that he called “very minor” by saying he would leave the question of military action against the regime to stop Tehran from getting a nuclear bomb open: I would certainly go over nuclear weapons and I would keep [military action] a question mark.”
Some big names in the media and several presidential candidates have interpreted his remarks as provoking a potential war with Iran:
This president likes to talk tough, but for six months now, we’ve gone without a permanent Secretary of Defense and he just withdrew his nominee — all as Trump marches us toward conflict with Iran. The president is making us less safe.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) June 18, 2019
Iran war is HIGHLY likely unless Trump swallows his pride & returns to the Iran nuclear agreement he tore up. But I fear he won’t put the interests of our country & those who’ll be killed in such a war ahead of his own pride & personal political interests. https://t.co/CmC3DaSieK pic.twitter.com/g7UE6TOmhZ
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) June 14, 2019
The Gulf of Oman incident must not be used as a pretext for war with Iran. War would be an unmitigated disaster for the United States, Iran, the region, and the world. A unilateral U.S. attack on Iran would be illegal and unconstitutional. https://t.co/D8QK7k50Ur
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) June 14, 2019
Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan announced Tuesday that the U.S. is preparing to deploy 1,000 troops to the Middle East for defensive purposes in response to growing concerns for the United States’ relationship with Iran.
Pompeo pointed out that these strikes on vessels are not the only attacks suspected to have been conducted by Iran. Since the beginning of May, he said, there have been over a half-dozen instances of Iranian attacks — “some thwarted and some not successfully thwarted,” including the two attacks on U.S. ships last week.
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