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Pompeo threatens Iran over attacks on US in Iraq

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a stark warning to Iran Friday, telling CNN that Washington will take ...

Posted: Sep 22, 2018 2:37 PM
Updated: Sep 22, 2018 2:37 PM

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a stark warning to Iran Friday, telling CNN 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 told CNN in an interview with Elise Labott. "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."

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

The top US diplomat 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 capital of Iraq. The White House blamed Shia militia groups, saying in a Sept. 11 statement 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 responded on September 12 with a statement that called the US claims "astonishing, provocative, and irresponsible."

Pompeo noted Friday 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 Iran and the US have increased over the last year after President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the international nuclear pact that gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

In the months since, the administration has rolled out a pressure campaign focused on "neutralizing" Iran's influence in the region and its support for terrorism and militants. Pompeo delivered a speech in May that laid out 12 US demands for Iran to change that many saw as a strategy of regime change in all but name.

Next week, during an annual meeting of world leaders at the United Nations, Pompeo will be delivering a major speech on Iran as part of an administration wide effort to raise support for US efforts to counter Iran.

Trump is also scheduled to host a Security Council meeting on non-proliferation. On Friday, he tweeted that the gathering would be about Iran.

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 particular no former Secretary of State should be actively speaking to undermine the foreign policy of the United States of America," Pompeo charged, 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 straightforward," Pompeo said.

Defends admin's handling of North Korea

Pompeo also addressed North Korea, and stressed the importance of the relationship between Trump and leader Kim Jong Un to US efforts to have Pyongyang dismantle its nuclear program. The leaders' ties are "certainly very important, as is the relationship between Chairman Kim and President Moon," Pompeo said, referring to South Korea's leader who met with Kim for their third summit this year.

Pompeo said, "the two leaders will ultimately have to finish this thing, close this deal, is certainly the case."

Asked if he felt that North Korea was dictating the terms and pace of negotiations, the top US diplomat said the Trump administration knew the "pace would be uneven" as they pushed Kim to denuclearize in a verifiable and irreversible way. "But the progress each and every day was important," Pompeo said. "I think we're getting that."

Pompeo insisted that Trump's style on the world stage was leading to heightened respect, despite deepening strains with Europe, where officials have publicly said they can't rely on the US the way they used to, and some have proposed reducing their use of the US dollar.

Partners around the world "understand that America is back, we are engaged, we are leading from a core set of principles that they all can rally around and begin to help us build coalitions to solve some of the most difficult problems facing the world," Pompeo said.

Pompeo also responded to claims in the recent book by Bob Woodward that Trump doesn't understand the nuances of national security issues and that his team has sometimes worked behind the scenes to prevent the President from seeing certain papers or from acting on issues.

"I find that absolutely ludicrous," Pompeo said.

"There aren't many members of the President's Cabinet who would spend as much time with him as I have," Pompeo said. "I've briefed him almost every day as CIA director. I see him and talk to him every day now. This is a President who is fully informed, well-briefed, listens, asks hard questions and is leading his foreign policy team towards solving so many of the problems that plague this world."

"I wish the previous administration had acted with such diligence and power," Pompeo said, "but it was left to us. We'll get it right."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 263023

Reported Deaths: 5752
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17675191
Hinds16813331
Harrison14224204
Rankin11167219
Jackson10839190
Lee9050144
Madison8568168
Jones6668114
Forrest6177124
Lauderdale6097192
Lowndes5518120
Lafayette516298
Lamar503965
Washington4923125
Bolivar4104109
Oktibbeha405982
Panola384881
Pontotoc376258
Warren3674103
Monroe3671108
Union355663
Marshall355270
Neshoba3485154
Pearl River3468105
Leflore3111109
Lincoln305688
Hancock291862
Sunflower291475
Tate279662
Alcorn272354
Pike268981
Itawamba268063
Scott259648
Yazoo255256
Prentiss252553
Tippah249250
Copiah249049
Coahoma248054
Simpson242171
Leake237367
Grenada223272
Marion222073
Covington219973
Adams213671
Wayne212634
Winston207371
George204339
Newton199046
Attala196963
Tishomingo194161
Chickasaw189044
Jasper179538
Holmes171768
Clay165837
Tallahatchie156235
Stone151425
Clarke147262
Calhoun140822
Smith129226
Yalobusha122034
Walthall114337
Greene113529
Noxubee112926
Montgomery111636
Carroll106622
Lawrence106517
Perry104531
Amite101426
Webster96124
Tunica88821
Claiborne88325
Jefferson Davis88329
Benton85623
Humphreys84624
Kemper80520
Quitman7089
Franklin69917
Choctaw63213
Wilkinson59825
Jefferson56821
Sharkey45117
Issaquena1606
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 439442

Reported Deaths: 6657
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson644371007
Mobile31435569
Madison28158217
Tuscaloosa21492275
Montgomery19873332
Shelby19248132
Baldwin17128189
Lee13137107
Morgan12594142
Etowah12070181
Calhoun11496206
Marshall10420123
Houston8988164
Limestone832081
Cullman8257124
Elmore8183110
DeKalb7871107
Lauderdale7847107
St. Clair7808130
Talladega6445112
Walker6028183
Jackson599145
Colbert548694
Blount546286
Autauga535862
Coffee460764
Dale409685
Franklin374150
Russell354215
Chilton344373
Covington338580
Escambia334544
Tallapoosa3143109
Dallas312996
Chambers303470
Clarke298036
Pike262431
Lawrence253355
Marion253161
Winston233342
Bibb222348
Geneva210247
Marengo208231
Pickens199531
Hale184944
Barbour180538
Fayette177829
Butler173160
Cherokee165131
Henry159525
Monroe152021
Randolph145536
Washington141727
Clay129746
Crenshaw123745
Macon121937
Cleburne121525
Lamar119922
Lowndes114836
Wilcox107922
Bullock103328
Perry99918
Conecuh97822
Sumter90527
Greene77923
Coosa63418
Choctaw51924
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