By Pooya Stone
Over the weekend, US Vice President Mike Pence appeared on CBS’s “Face the Nation” to talk about the threat posed by the Iranian government and the Free Iran rally that took place in Washington DC on Friday.
Journalist Margaret Brennan asked Pence if the US had conducted cyber operations against Iran in response for shooting down a US drone last week, but Pence declined to comment as it was a covert operation.
Pence confirmed that the US would introduce additional sanctions against Iran for the downing of the drone and the attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman two weeks ago. He said that Trump declined a military strike because it would have killed about 150 people, which was not a “proportional response” considering the drone was unmanned.
Pence said: “Iran should not- Iran should not confuse American restraint with a lack of American resolve. This president’s made it clear we are going to protect American forces in the region. We’re going to protect American interests in the region and the United States of America will never allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.”
Then, Brennan asked about Iran’s threat to increase its stockpile of enriched uranium this week – a move that would violate the 2015 nuclear deal. She wanted to know if that was a red line for the US and how the US would react.
Pence explained that the nuclear deal, which the US pulled out of last year, was “one of the worst deals this country had ever entered into” and that the punishing sanctions enacted on Iran in 2010 were working to pressure Iran until they were lifted under the deal.
Pence said: “What we want to do is stand with the Iranian people, thousands of which gathered outside the White House on Friday, and tens of thousands of which, took to the streets last year in communities across Iran, we want to stand with them to see Iran come forward, step to a future and embrace freedom.”
Pence was referring to a march in Washington on Friday by supporters of the Iranian Opposition Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK or PMOI) and the major anti-government protests that have continued for more than a year inside Iran.
Brennan asked if this meant the US would support the Iranian people in the overthrow of the mullahs – something the Iranian people have made very clear is their goal in their 18-month-long uprising – as the US policy is currently not officially regime change.
Pence said: “For forty years, [Tehran has] propagated terror. They’re the leading state sponsor of terror in the world. Those days must come to an end, and America is gonna continue to stand, resolved, with the people of Iran for a better future for them.”