Pompeo: Suggestion that withdrawal from nuclear deal sparked Iranian-Israeli tensions is 'ludicrous'

Pompeo: Suggestion that withdrawal from nuclear deal sparked Iranian-Israeli tensions is 'ludicrous'
© Greg Nash

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump privately frustrated over lack of progress with North Korea: report Russian diplomat calls on Pompeo to free accused Russian agent Pelosi: 'Thug' Putin not welcome in Congress MORE said on Sunday that it is "ludicrous" to suggest that recent tensions between Israel and Iran are a result of the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Tehran.

"That's ludicrous," Pompeo told Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday." 

"It's ludicrous to suggest that Iran feels less constrained, when during the JCPOA they have now fired missiles into an airport where Americans travel each day in Riyadh. They've now fired missiles into Israel," he said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name of the agreement.

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"To suggest that somehow the withdrawal from the JCPOA is driving the Iranian conduct that has taken place during the JCPOA in Yemen, the rise of Hezbollah, all of those things took place during the JCPOA. Indeed, I would argue that they thought they could act with impunity," he added.

"They watched Europe put exactly zero sanctions on their missile program during the JCPOA. I think [Iranian President Hassan] Rouhani and [Iraniani Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad] Zarif need to explain why it's the case that while this agreement was in place Iran continued its march across the Middle East."  

Tensions between Iran and Israel erupted last week when Iran targeted Israeli soldiers in the Golan Heights and Israel struck back, firing dozens of missiles into what it claimed were Iranian posts in Syria. 

The episode came hours after Trump announced the U.S. would be pulling out of the Obama-era, multination Iran nuclear deal. 

Iran has pledged to restart its program to enrich uranium if the deal collapses.