Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in an interview Thursday with “Fox & Friends,” addressed mounting tensions between the United States and Iran -- saying the threat from the regime is "real" and "credible."
“Without getting into specifics, you can be sure that President Trump will ensure that we have all the resources necessary to respond in the event that the Islamic Republic of Iran should decide to attack Americans or American interests,” Pompeo said.
In early May, the U.S. accelerated the deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group to the Mideast and sent four B-52 bomber aircraft to the region. The administration has evacuated nonessential personnel from Iraq, amid unspecified threats officials said are linked to Iranian-backed militias in the country.
This all comes as the White House has been pressuring the country with sanctions, and Iran has threatened action of their own -- stoking concerns in Washington and beyond about a military confrontation.
“The threat is real,” Pompeo said Thursday. “It’s been credible.”
The White House reportedly is expected to call for up to 10,000 more troops in the Middle East, as well as additional naval ships and Patriot missile batteries.
In recent days, a rocket attack took place in Baghdad’s “Green Zone,” where the U.S. embassy is located, although Tehran has not taken responsibility for it. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also said, according to the state-run IRNA news agency, that he is looking to take on increased wartime powers in order to deal with an “economic war,” sparked by U.S. sanctions and Trump backing out of the Iran nuclear deal. On May 2, the U.S. warned other nations to cease buying oil from Iran, or face sanctions themselves.
When asked if the latest Iranian threats were a response to U.S. sanctions, Pompeo indicated that would be an oversimplification.
“There’s a long history of Iranian terror that long predates our sanctions efforts, so this isn’t just about our sanctions, this is about the nature of this theocratic regime, these kleptocrats in Tehran. We’re determined to push back.”
At the same time, Pompeo touted the success of sanctions against Iran.
“The sanctions have certainly had their intended effect. They have put constraints on the leadership in Iran’s ability to foment terror,” he said. “There are Hezbollah soldiers who are no longer being paid or are being paid a fraction of what they were being paid before. Their ability to expand their terror network in the world has been reduced.”
Pompeo contrasted this with the approach of the Obama administration, which entered into a nuclear deal with Iran, which has been heavily criticized by Trump and other Republicans.
“The previous administration took a different path. They underwrote that government, giving them hundreds of billions of dollars and the ability to put the terror team in place that we’re seeing today,” he said. “The very terror threat that we’re facing. President Trump has taken a very different course of action. We’re determined to stop not only their nuclear program and from them ever getting a nuclear weapon, but to prevent them from building out their missile program and conducting terror campaigns.”
The administration has said that war with Iran is not their goal -- and that their actions are about deterrence.
“This is an important mission,” Pompeo said. “We have 40 years of terror coming out of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and President Trump is determined to change the course of that regime.”
Fox News’ Alex Pappas and the Associated Press contributed to this report.