Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday it’s “unmistakable” that Iran was behind the attacks on two commercial tankers in the Strait of Hormuz.
U.S.-Iran tensions are high following accusations by the administration of President Donald Trump that Tehran carried out attacks last Thursday on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, a vital oil shipping route. Iran has denied having any role.
In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Pompeo said the nation has “high confidence” in placing the blame on the Islamic Republic, but added that President Trump doesn’t “want a war.”
“It is unmistakable what happened here,” he said. “These were attacks by the Islamic Republic of Iran on commercial shipping on the freedom of navigation with the clear intent to deny transit through the Strait.”
“The American people should rest assured we have high confidence with respect to who conducted these attacks, as well as half a dozen other attacks throughout the world over the past 40 days,” he added.
He said the Trump administration doesn’t want war with Iran, but will “take actions that deter Iran.”
“We don't want a war. We've done what we can to deter this,” he said. “The Iranians should understand very clearly that we will continue to take actions that deter Iran from engaging in this behind some kind of behavior.”
Pompeo said he did not want to discuss possible next steps the United State might take in response to last week's developments.
"The intelligence community has lots of data, lots of evidence. The world will come to see much of it," said Pompeo, who headed the Central Intelligence Agency before becoming secretary of state.
"Iran will not get a nuke weapon. That's the goal," he said when asked about the possibility of Trump sending more American troops and military hardware to the region.
"I made a number of calls to colleagues around the world yesterday. I am confident that we will have partners that understand this threat," Pompeo said.
Pompeo also pushed back on the controversy over Trump’s remarks about not spying on North Korea — and took a swipe at the Obama administration for not doing enough to stop foreign interference in U.S. elections.
“We are taking all the efforts necessary to make sure we know what's going on all around the world. That includes every country,” he declared.
“President Trump has been crystal clear during my now two and a half years with the administration, we are going to do everything we can prevent any country from interfering in any election in the United States,” he said. “America will continue to work out of that, I'm proud of the work this administration does, I only wish the previous administration had done the same.”
Also Pompeo dismissed the controversy over Trump’s remarks on being open to “dirt” from foreign nations as a “Washington piece of silliness,” insisting Trump “believes that too” that foreign inference in our elections is unacceptable.
The U.S. has released video of what it says was an Iranian boat approaching one of the tankers at night to remove an unexploded limpet mine and other evidence that it says point to Iran’s responsibility for the attacks.
“Iran did do it and you know they did it,” Trump said Friday during a phone interview with Fox News.
Iran has denied any wrongdoing. The country’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, on Friday suggested in a series of tweets that Iran’s enemies may have been behind the attacks, accusing the Trump administration of “economic terrorism’’ and blaming it for the “renewed tension in our region.”
There’s no question Iran was behind the attacks, and it was a “Class A screw-up,” Democratic Representative Adam Schiff of California, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” But the problem is the U.S. is struggling to persuade its allies to join in a response, he said.
“It shows just how isolated the United States has become,’’ Schiff said.
Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas advocated an attack, saying on CBS that “these unprovoked attacks on commercial shipping warrant a retaliatory military strike.’’ Schiff noted that Trump has said he doesn’t want war with Iran, but that his advisers “seem to be taking actions to undercut that ambition to stay out of warfare.’’
Schiff said Trump’s pressure campaign on Iran after withdrawing from the nuclear accord was “dangerously naïve” and that the attacks on shipping were “eminently foreseeable.”
On other matters, the secretary of state also said on Fox that Trump’s decision to push ahead with $8 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia, defying congressional opposition, “made enormous sense.”
Pompeo said he also expects Trump will talk about human rights and Hong Kong if he meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G-20 leaders’ meeting June 28-29 in Osaka, Japan. Almost 2 million protesters marched through Hong Kong Sunday a day, according to organizers, after leader Carrie Lam suspended -- but didn’t withdraw -- a controversial extradition bill.
Material from Bloomberg news service was used in this story.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.