Tel Aviv, Israel.- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday ratcheted up the Trump administration’s rhetoric against Iran and gave warm boosts of support to Israel and Saudi Arabia in their standoffs with Tehran.
Pompeo’s comments in Riyadh and then Tel Aviv came as he neared the end of the Middle East leg of his first trip abroad as America’s top diplomat. He has called for concerted international action to punish Iran for its missile programs and other actions that he said destabilize the region.
The tough line was welcomed by his hosts, particularly in Israel, which considers Iran its greatest threat and has led calls for the West to revise or reject the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
“We remain deeply concerned about Iran’s dangerous escalation of threats to Israel and the region and Iran’s ambition to dominate the Middle East remains,” Pompeo said after a nearly two-hour meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The United States is with Israel in this fight.”
Israel has cited Iran’s hostile rhetoric, support for anti-Israel militant groups and development of long-range missiles. It also has complained the nuclear deal does not do enough to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear-weapons capability, and expressed concerns about Iran’s involvement in the civil war in neighboring Syria.
Israel says it will not allow Iran to establish a permanent military presence in Syria, fearing the Iranians use it to launch attacks. “Iran must be stopped, its quest for a nuclear bomb must be stopped, its aggression must be stopped and we’re committed to stopping it together,” Netanyahu said.
President Donald Trump is to decide by May 12 whether to keep the U.S. in the nuclear deal. Pompeo repeated the Trump position that “if we can’t fix it, he is going to withdraw.”