U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo: We’ll nix Iran deal if it’s not fixed

“Drawing cooperation with close allies like you is critical to our efforts to counter Iran’s...maligned activity throughout the Middle East and indeed throughout the world,” Pompeo said.

By
April 29, 2018 18:20
3 minute read.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem (GPO)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem (GPO)

The US will withdraw from the Iran deal if it cannot be amended to prevent Tehran from producing nuclear weapons, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a brief trip to Israel on Sunday afternoon.

US President Donald Trump has “been pretty clear: This deal is very flawed,” he said. “He’s directed the administration to try and fix it, and if we can’t fix it, he’s going to withdraw from the deal. It’s pretty straightforward.”

“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. “The United States is with Israel in this fight, and we strongly support Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself.”

He spoke during a joint press event with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that followed a meeting between the two men.
The Tel Aviv visit was Pompeo’s third leg in a trip that began on Thursday immediately after he was sworn in as secretary of state. He held a meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels and visited Riyadh before landing at Ben-Gurion Airport.
Statements by PM Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Pompeo, April 29, 2018 (GPO)

Pompeo joked with Netanyahu that he arrived at the door to his office before his new office in Washington.

“I’ve been the secretary for a handful of hours, as I was saying earlier,” he said. “I haven’t been to my office yet.”

Iranian aggression and the possible dissolution of the Iran deal was the primary topic of conversation during Pompeo’s trip. In Brussels, he sought to sway European allies to support an amended deal. In Saudi Arabia, he called for a unified Muslim front against Iranian-backed terrorism.

With Netanyahu, who opposes the deal, Pompeo spoke of America’s unwavering support for the Jewish state and for its right of self-defense.

US-Israeli cooperation “is critical to our efforts to counter Iran’s destabilizing and maligned activity throughout the Middle East and indeed throughout the world,” he said.

The US also wants to halt non-nuclear threats from Iran, such as its support for Hezbollah, its importation of thousands of proxy fighters in Syria and its assistance to Houthi rebels in Yemen, Pompeo said.

His trip comes in advance of a May 12 deadline for a US decision on restoring US economic sanctions on Tehran, a move that would likely end the 2015 nuclear pact between Iran and six major powers.

Netanyahu told Pompeo: “The greatest threat to the world and to our two countries, and to all countries, is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons, and specifically the attempt of Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.”

On the subject of Syria, Pompeo said America’s top priorities were “to defeat ISIS, deescalate violence, deter the use of chemical weapons and ensure the safe delivery of humanitarian aid and support an ultimate political resolution to the conflict.”

Turning to Netanyahu, Pompeo said: “We know there are many challenges ahead, and we look forward to being your partner in resolving each of them.”

Netanyahu told Pompeo the inclusion of Israel on the itinerary of his first trip was “symbolic” of the strong bond between the two countries.

“You are a true friend of Israel, a true friend of the Jewish people,” he said. “America and Israel are closer than ever before, and I have no doubt that our alliance will grow even closer in the years ahead.”

Netanyahu thanked Trump for his December decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and for the pending relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 14.

Quite a few countries plan to follow suit, he said.

Pompeo told Netanyahu: “By recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the seat of its government, we’re recognizing reality.”

But he noted that the relocation was not meant to prejudice any future negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians on the status of Jerusalem.

“The boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem remain subject to negotiations between the parties, and we remain committed to achieving a lasting and comprehensive peace that offers a brighter future for both Israel and the Palestinians,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo did not travel to the Palestinian territories during his visit.

In Saudi Arabia, he met with King Salman and Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.

On Sunday evening he flew to Jordan, where he is scheduled to meet with King Abdullah before heading back to Washington on Monday.


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