By Jon Dougherty
At a conference with Middle East and European leaders on Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence said Iran is planning a “new Holocaust” by eliminating Israel from the map, adding that the Islamic republic also poses “the greatest threat to peace and security” in the region.
With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in attendance, Pence’s warning came hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that “confronting Iran” is necessary for any nation that wants to “achieve peace and stability in the Middle East.”
“The three H’s — the Houthis, Hamas, and Hezbollah — these are real threats … you can’t get peace in the Middle East without pushing back against Iran,” Pompeo told reporters in referencing Iran’s proxies in Yemen, in Lebanon and in Syria and Iraq.
The two-day conference was organized by the U.S. and Poland. The Trump administration is pressuring European countries to abandon the Obama-era “nuclear deal” because it helps Iran evade sanctions.
Pence denounced an initiative by Germany, France, and Britain to continue allowing European businesses to continue operating in Iran as undermining the sanctions regime.
“It’s an ill-advised step that will only strengthen Iran, weaken the EU and creates still more distance between Europe and the United States,” he said.
“The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and join with us as we bring the economic and diplomatic pressure necessary to give the Iranian people, the region and the world the peace, security and freedom they deserve,” the vice president added.
Comments and warnings by Pence and Pompeo came as Iran celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani vowed to”raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground” if the U.S. military should attack.
That threat led to a response from the Trump administration in the form of a video by National Security Adviser John Bolton, who directed it at Rouhani.
“For all your boasts, for all your threats to the life of the American president, you are responsible for terrorizing your own people,’ Bolton declared. “I don’t think you’ll have many more anniversaries to enjoy.”
His comments come the same day that Netanyahu appeared to indicate in a tweet that a military confrontation with Iran was a foregone conclusion.
“From here I am going to a meeting with 60 foreign ministers and envoys of countries from around the world against Iran,” he tweeted.
“What is important about this meeting – and it is not in secret, because there are many of those – is that this is an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries, that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of combating Iran,” he added.
What is important about this meeting – and it is not in secret, because there are many of those – is that this is an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries, that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of combating Iran.
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) February 13, 2019
Iran’s proxies and forces have been active in the region, supplying rebels in Yemen and backing the government in Syria.
Israel has launched a number of strikes against Iranian targets and weapons depots inside Syria over the past year especially. And Netanyahu has vowed to never allow Iran to gain a substantial military foothold in Syria, along Israel’s border.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10
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