U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo listens during the news conference in Reykjavik.
(photo credit: ASGEIR ASGEIRSSON/REUTERS)
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended the US's decision on Monday to designate The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC], a branch of Iran's military, as a terrorist organization.
In an interview on Fox News, conducted shortly after he held a White House press conference, Pompeo said, "We are just calling it the reality of what it is.
"We are always doing everything we can to protect American soldiers everywhere," he continued. "But the fact is the IRGC has already killed over 600 American soldiers. So you can't have peace. You can't have stability; you can't have security in the Middle East without weakening the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps."
He said the situation on the ground was complicated long before Monday's announcement.
"What we are trying to do is reduce that complexity," he said. "Take down this malign activity. These kleptocrats in Iran that are engaged in, to change their behavior is such a fundamental way that we can be safe all across the world. And certainly in Iraq and in the Middle East."
Pompeo was also questioned about the timing of the announcement, just one day before the Israeli elections.
Time and time again, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called Iran Israel’s biggest existential threat. Netanyahu will be fighting to hold his premiership after 13 years in office.
"It happened today, because today was the day we were ready to make the announcement," Pompeo said, denying that there could be a connection. "It took a lot of work to make sure we had all the facts right, we had everyone in the United States government in the right place so we could announce."
When Fox News anchor Bret Baier asked Pompeo if Qasem Soleimani was as bad as the head of ISIS Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, Pompeo simply said, "Ya, he's a terrorist."
"Qasem Soleimani has the blood of Americans on his hands," Pompeo continued We want to "reduce the risk that any American will be killed by Qasem Soleimani and his merry band of brothers, ever again."
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