Pompeo doubles down on blaming Iran for oil attacks: 'This was a state-on-state act of war'

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions GOP rejects effort to compel documents on delayed Ukraine aid MORE on Sunday insisted Iran was definitively to blame for attacks on Saudi oil production facilities for which Tehran-backed Houthi rebels have taken credit.

The attacks, which hit an oilfield and a production facility, "could not have come from the Houthis. It’s crazy for anyone to assert that they did," Pompeo said on CBS’s "Face the Nation." "This was an act of war. ... This was a state-on-state act of war."


Host Margaret Brennan noted that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has forcefully denied Tehran's responsibility for the attacks, but Pompeo countered that “there’s already ample evidence” Zarif is lying.

“I don’t know why anyone listens to the Iranian foreign minister,” Pompeo added, minimizing Zarif’s role in Tehran's foreign policy. “It’s beneath the dignity of anyone to listen to him.”

Pompeo also maintained that he and President TrumpDonald John TrumpRouhani says Iran will never seek nuclear weapons Trump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions Trump says Bloomberg is 'wasting his money' on 2020 campaign MORE are “looking for a diplomatic resolution” but added that “we’re prepared to do the things we need to do.”

“President Trump would like to have a diplomatic solution. That’s the task in front of us,” Pompeo later told “Fox News Sunday” guest host John Roberts.

“Our mission set is to avoid war. We’re putting additional forces in the region for purposes of deterrence and defense,” he said

"Suffice it to say we’re consistently concerned that Iran will continue to behave in a way that it has for 40 years," he added. "The whole world understands that Iran is the bad actor. They are the evil force in the region." 

Pompeo on CBS also addressed criticism from Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Cheney's decision not to run for Senate sparks Speaker chatter Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Apple reportedly dropped plans to let iPhone users encrypt backups | Justices decline facial recognition case | Critics fear Facebook losing misinformation fight | Truce on French tech tax MORE (R-Wyo.) and Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenator-jurors who may not be impartial? Remove them for cause Broad, bipartisan rebuke for proposal to pull troops from Africa What to watch for as Senate organizes impeachment on day one MORE (R-S.C.), who said that Trump’s failure to launch strikes on Iran after it downed a U.S. drone this summer was interpreted as weakness. He told Brennan, “We’ve responded in a number of ways. It’s not about weakness.”

He was similarly dismissive of the notion that Trump’s earlier response had emboldened Iran in his interview with Fox's Roberts.

“There have been consequences. The Iranian economy will shrink by 10 to 15 percent in the year ahead of us,” Pompeo said. “The Iranians aren’t looking for a green light. The Iranians have behaved poorly for 40 years, so it’s not the case that any particular response has allowed the Iranians to think they have freedom to move about the cabin.”

Trump on Friday ordered more U.S. troops and equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in response to drone and missile attacks on Saudi oil facilities.

Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Dems raise pressure on Esper to block border wall funds | Trump impeachment trial begins in Senate | Day one dominated by fight over rules House Dems express 'deepening concern' over plans to take .2B from Pentagon for border wall Broad, bipartisan rebuke for proposal to pull troops from Africa MORE would not say how many U.S. troops will be deployed but said they are meant to "send a clear message that the United States supports our partners in the region," "ensure the free flow of resources necessary to support the global economy" and "demonstrate commitment to upholding the international rules based order that we have long called on Iran to obey."

The Trump administration on Friday also slapped new sanctions on Iran’s central bank.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have increased since Trump withdrew the U.S. from an Obama-era nuclear deal last year and reimposed sanctions.

This developing report was last updated at 9:23 a.m.