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

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo 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.”

{mosads}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 Trump 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 Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (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 Esper 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.

Tags Donald Trump Lindsey Graham Liz Cheney Mark Esper Mike Pompeo

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