Pentagon hints at more aggressive posture toward Iran

Pentagon hints at more aggressive posture toward Iran
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The Pentagon on Monday hinted at a more aggressive approach toward Iran following Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s threats to “crush” the nation with economic sanctions.

“We are going to take steps necessary to address Iran's malign influence in the region,” Defense Department spokesman Rob Manning told reporters at the Pentagon.

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“They are a destabilizing force in the region ... and we’re going to do everything we can to avert that,” Manning added. “This is a whole of government solution that we’re working in order to change Iran’s influence in the region and we’re continuing to do that.”

Pompeo earlier on Monday vowed to impose an “unprecedented” level of economic sanctions as well as military pressure unless Tehran alters its behavior in the Middle East.

The speech came roughly two weeks after President Trump announced he was withdrawing the U.S. from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and reimposing sanctions that were lifted as part of the accord.

Pompeo, while unveiling the Trump administration's new policy on Iran, said he will work with the Pentagon and allies in pressuring Iran to curb its nuclear and military ambitions.

“We will ensure freedom of navigation on the waters in the region. We will work to prevent and counteract any Iranian malign cyber activity. We will track down Iranian operatives and their Hezbollah proxies operating around the world and crush them,” Pompeo said at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.

“Iran will never again have carte blanche to dominate the Middle East.”

Manning would not say what the Pentagon will do to address Iran, but he said officials “are actively looking at their influence in the region” and assessing what actions will be taken.

“We’re assessing if we’re going to double down on current actions or implement new actions. It’s on the table, we’re not going to rule out anything necessary in order to address Iran,” Manning said.