Pompeo: We will hold Iran accountable

Secretary of State makes clear US will take direct action against Tehran for any attacks.

Ben Ariel, Canada ,

Mike Pompeo
Mike Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday issued a stark warning to Iran, telling CNN in an interview that Washington will take direct action against Tehran for any attacks, even those using proxy forces, against US interests.

"We have told the Islamic Republic of Iran that using a proxy force to attack an American interest will not prevent us from responding against the prime actor," Pompeo stressed.

"That is, we will not let Iran get away with using a proxy force to attack an American interest; Iran will be held accountable for those incidents," he added.

Asked if that meant militarily, Pompeo reiterated, "they're going to be held accountable."

The Secretary of State was speaking in the wake of early September rocket attacks, allegedly by Iran-backed militias, that appeared to target US missions in Iraq, including in an area that houses the US Embassy in Baghdad.

The White House blamed Shiite militia groups for the attacks, saying in a statement last week that "Iran did not act to stop these attacks by its proxies in Iraq, which it has supported with funding, training and weapons."

Iran's Foreign Ministry later fired back, saying in a statement that the US claims were "astonishing, provocative, and irresponsible."

Pompeo noted in his interview with CNN that Iran has been "confronting the world as the world's largest state sponsor of terror for quite some time. They have armed militias, the Lebanese Hezbollah, Makateeb Hezbollah, militias in Iraq; they're arming the Houthis in Yemen, launching missiles in the Gulf states."

He added that if Iran is "responsible for the arming and training of these militias, we're gonna go to the source."

Tensions between the US and Iran have heightened in recent months after President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

More recently, the President signed an executive order officially reinstating US sanctions against Iran.

In May, Pompeo listed a dozen demands that he said could make up a new agreement with Tehran following the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal. Iran rejected those demands outright.

The administration has rolled out a pressure campaign focused on "neutralizing" Iran's influence in the region and its support for terrorism. In addition to the May speech in which he outlined the 12 US demands for Iran to change, he formed an Iran Action Group, headed by senior policy adviser Brian Hook, to coordinate the State Department’s pressure campaign on Iran.

In Friday’s interview, Pompeo also went after his predecessor, former Secretary of State John Kerry, an architect of the Iran nuclear deal who has met with Iranian officials since leaving office.

Kerry's "problem," Pompeo said, is that "he always refused to treat our enemies like enemies."

"No American, and in in particular no former Secretary of State should be actively speaking to undermine the foreign policy of the United States of America," Pompeo added, saying that Kerry had told Iranian officials to "just wait out this administration."

"Every American, especially former Secretary of State should be advocating for America's foreign policy. It's that straight forward," Pompeo said.

Kerry has justified his meetings with Iranian officials by claiming that every former Secretary of State has continued to meet foreign leaders after leaving office.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)