Sep 22, 2018, 12:10 AM
News Code: 83039202
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Pompeo threatens Iran: 'They're going to be held accountable'

Tehran, Sept 22, IRNA -- 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. '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.'

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 Sept. 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 Persian 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 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 straight forward,' Pompeo said.
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