US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressed on Thursday that Washington’s move to kill Iranian top commander Qassem Soleimani was an “important strategic strike.”
In remarks to the press with US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia John Abizaid from the Kingdom’s Prince Sultan Air Base, he added that the strike “has now provided the Iranians with a deep knowledge that our notion of deterrence is real.”
“I think it demonstrated resolve not only from the United States, but all of the forces that are working to push back against the Iran. He was actively plotting to kill Americans. He had killed Americans,” he said.
Moreover, Pompeo vowed that Tehran will not acquire nuclear weapons.
“They’re not going to get nuclear weapons. We’re going to prevent that.”
“We are draining their capacity to conduct strategic activity in the region and destabilize the Middle East. They’re having to make harder choices today,” he continued. “It will take time. There remains work to do. But you can see they’ve gone from delivering 2.7 or 2.8 million barrels per day to a couple hundred thousand barrels a day.”
“We’re going to try and tighten that down even further to deny the regime the capacity to underwrite Hezbollah, underwrite the Shiite militias, underwrite Hamas and the ‘Islamic Jihad’ in the Gaza Strip,” he stated, noting that the hundreds of thousands of refugees in Syria are a direct result of what the Iranian regime is doing.
“We’re trying to deny them the resources to inflict this kind of harm throughout the Middle East,” he stressed. “The Iranians will respond. We’ve seen that. And so you have to establish the deterrence that’s connected to that.”
Furthermore, Pompeo reiterated accusations that Iran was behind last year’s attack against Saudi oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais.
“No reasonable person has any doubt about where these missiles came from,” he said. “The Iranian fingerprints are all over this thing. Anybody who suggests otherwise is – has got another motive in denying that this was an Iranian attack launch.”
“This was an act of war in violation of all kinds of UN norms and rules.”
For his part, Abizaid said: “The missiles that are being used and fired from Yemen by the Houthis are all coming from the Iranians. This is so clear.”
“We’ve just recently interdicted two dhows down there filled with Iranian-produced equipment that is being used by the Houthis to attack Saudi Arabia. So, I think it’s really important for us to understand who is the aggressor in the region, and it’s no doubt it’s the Iranians.”