In a press conference at the State Department Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that the Trump administration has chosen a different strategy for dealing with Iran as he took questions in the wake of the U.S. decision to eliminate Quassem Soleimani Thursday.
Pompeo said the the U.S. has engaged in a consistent approach to Iran in President Trump’s first term, when the decision was made to pull out of the Iran deal and engage in what the administration calls a “maximum pressure campaign.”
The Secretary said the previous administration “chose to underwrite and appease” the Iranian regime, referring to the billion dollars President Obama sent to the regime and their decision to strike the deal that allowed for the eventual development of a nuclear weapon.
“We have chosen to confront and contain [the Iranian regime],” Pompeo said.
The Secretary defended, when asked about the quality of the intelligence that led up to the decision to hit Soleimani at a Baghdad airport, the decision to strike the convoy carrying the Iranian terrorist. He also noted that the intelligence indicated Soleimani was continuing a terror campaign in the broader Middle East region, and that one need only look at the days leading up to the strike — when an American was killed and the U.S. embassy in Iraq was attacked by protestors — for justification of the decision.
“It was the right decision; we got it right,” Pompeo said.
Dismissing a recent CNN interview with Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif — calling Zarif a “propagandist of the first order” — Pompeo answered the question of whether Iranian cultural sites would be considered targets by promising to operate within the boundaries of international law, and giving a full-throated defense of the Persian culture.
“Let me tell you who’s done damage to the Persian culture: It’s not the United States…it’s the Ayatollah,” Pompeo said.