By Jon Dougherty
(NationalSentinel) Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed details of his meeting with military officials at U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday to discuss the escalating tensions with Iran following attacks on a pair of tankers in the Strait of Hormuz last week the Trump administration has blamed on Tehran.
“The purpose of my visit was to come down here and make sure the State Department and Department of Defense were deeply coordinated across a whole broad range of issues. We certainly discussed the ongoing tension in the Gulf but we talked about a much broader of issues,” Pompeo told reporters. “If we’re to deliver at the State Department on the President’s diplomatic objectives, we have to be tightly woven with our military.”
“President Trump does not want war and we will continue to communicate that message while doing the things that are necessary to protect American interests in the region,” Pompeo said.
“It’s been our mission since the beginning of this administration to convince the Iranian regime not to move forward with their nuclear program and not to continue to engage in development of missiles and all of the other malign activities they’ve been engaged in around the world,” he continued.
“It’s why we’ve put into place the pressure campaign that’s now been ongoing for a year and a couple of months. It’s been very effective and now we need to make sure we can continue to do that so that we ultimately get the opportunity to convince Iran that it’s not in their best interest to behave this way.”
He also noted that establishing a deterrence is challenging but the U.S. was up to the task.
His comments come on the heels of a presidential directive ordering another 1,000 U.S. troops to the Middle East. They also come following the release of video evidence by the U.S. Navy and CENTCOM earlier this week showing an Iranian patrol boat retrieving unexploded ordnance from the side of one of the targeted tankers — video evidence CENTCOM says clearly indicates Iran’s involvement.
But not everyone agrees or believes that evidence, including Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). She took to Twitter on Tuesday to essentially lay the blame for Iran’s actions on POTUS Trump and his administration.
None of this would be happening if Trump didn't back out of the Iran nuclear deal.
America’s response should be to return to the table and reinstate the Iran nuclear deal.
Increasing tensions and threats of war serve nobody's interests. https://t.co/KGSKGXATPE
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) June 17, 2019
She wrote: None of this would be happening if Trump didn’t back out of the Iran nuclear deal. America’s response should be to return to the table and reinstate the Iran nuclear deal. Increasing tensions and threats of war serve nobody’s interests.”
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Critics of Omar’s tweet note that Iran has been cheating since the nuclear deal was signed during the Obama administration, which pulled out all the stops just to get a deal — any deal — done.
Also, they note Iran announced it would soon “exceed limits” on its enriched uranium stockpile, as reported by Financial Times:
Iran said it would soon exceed limits on its enriched uranium stockpile agreed in a nuclear deal with world powers, increasing the urgency of European efforts to save the landmark accord.
The breach, which Tehran said would happen within 10 days, threatens to push the 2015 agreement to total collapse following US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the pact last year. It will also stoke already elevated tensions between the Islamic republic and Washington.
The White House responded to Iran’s announcement on Monday by accusing it of engaging in “nuclear blackmail”. The Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran said the country’s production of uranium enriched to a low level had increased fourfold and its stockpile would pass a 300kg limit by June 27…The Iranian announcement increases the pressure on the accord’s other signatories — Germany, France, UK, Russia and China — to find ways to counter the impact of crippling US sanctions that Mr Trump reimposed after abandoning the deal.
In May, Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president, set a 60-day deadline for the signatories to deliver tangible measures to enable Iran to export oil and transact with international banks. The deadline is July 7.
Omar has a history of siding with Islamic regimes over her own country.
As for whether or not Iran is guilty, even Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, says it is.
“There’s no question that Iran is behind the attacks. I think the evidence is very strong and compelling. This was a class-A screw-up by Iran to insert a mine on the ship. It didn’t detonate. They had to go back and retrieve it. I can imagine there are some Iranian heads rolling for that botched operation,” he told CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday.
But then he blamed the attack on President Trump as well.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10
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