Pompeo says US doesn’t want war with Iran, claims sanctions help diplomacy

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefs the media on September 10, 2019, at the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claims his country doesn’t want war with Iran and seeks to initiate a diplomatic solution to resolve tensions between the two sides, a claim that comes only days after Washington introduced new sanctions against Iran’s Central Bank.

Speaking to Fox News on Sunday, Pompeo said the recent move by the US to step up sanctions against Iran and increase troop levels in the Persian Gulf region was a matter of “deterrence and defense” rather than preparation for a military conflict.

"Our mission set is to avoid war,” he said. “That's the task in front of us.”

Pompeo further claimed the Trump administration’s move in sanctioning Iran as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign was also a step in the same direction.

"That's what we've been aiming for a little over two years now, with the strongest sanctions that have ever been put in place against this revolutionary regime," he said.

The Pentagon on Friday announced that it had been authorized to deploy more troops and military equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to beef up security, after Saudi state oil agency Aramco came under attack by Yemeni drones last week.

Pompeo and Trump, along with their Saudi allies, were quick to point the finger at Iran and threaten a swift response in the aftermath of the attacks, which slashed Saudi Arabia’s oil output by more than half.

Days after the attack, however, the Trump administration seems to have softened its tone after failing to muster enough support for pressure Iran. The Islamic Republic has denied claims of any role in the attacks.

Insisting on its position, Washington imposed more sanctions on Iran, penalizing the Iranian Central Bank.

Pompeo said Sunday Washington’s moves were aimed at “deterring” Tehran but Trump would take necessary action if such moves result in failure.

"If that deterrence should continue to fail, I am also confident that President Trump would continue to take the actions that are necessary," he added.

In a separate interview, aired by the CBS on Sunday, Pompeo repeated the claims against Iran, saying the US intelligence community has also arrived at the same conclusion.

“It is the intelligence community's determination that is likely the case that these were launched from Iran,” Pompeo argued.

He rejected statements by Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement, which has said on several occasions that it was behind the September 14 attacks on Aramco facilities in Abqaiq.

“This was Iran true and true, and the United States will respond in a way that reflects that act of war by this Iranian revolutionary regime,” he said.

Iran has dismissed the US allegations about the attacks, saying Saudis should expect such attacks from Yemen when they kill Yemeni people. The Islamic Republic has also made it clear that talks with the US would only be possible when it removes all sanctions and treats Iran with respect.

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