London, 17 June – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that America does not want war with Iran, but will take every necessary action to ensure safe navigation through vital shipping lanes in the Middle East.
Pompeo said: “We don’t want war. We’ve done what we can to deter this. The Iranians should understand very clearly that we will continue to take actions that deter Iran from engaging in this kind of behaviour.”
Tensions between the two countries are high right now after U.S. President Donald Trump accused Tehran of being behind the attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday.
Pompeo defended this, saying that there is a lot of evidence to prove Iran’s involvement, besides the video footage released last week. Several other countries have since agreed with the US about Iran’s involvement including Saudi Arabia and the UK.
Pompeo said that the US is discussing a possible international response to secure vital shipping lanes, but didn’t provide further details.
He said: “I’m confident that when they see the risk, the risk of their own economies and their own people and outrageous behaviour of the Islamic Republic of Iran, they will join us in this.”
The US is already engaged in a standoff with Iran over its nuclear program and other malign behaviour in the Middle East, including previous attacks on oil tankers in May and the targeting of US drones in Yemen by the Iran-backed Houthis on June 13.
Other American politicians have agreed with Pompeo about the blame landing on Iran, with Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, calling the evidence “compelling”.
Some conservative congressional Republicans also called for a tough stance on Iran.
Steve Scalise, the No. 2 House of Representatives Republican, said the White House had been briefing Congress on Iran.
He said: “We don’t want to see it escalate to where it is a military operation. But we have to stand up to Iran.”
While Senator Tom Cotton, a member of the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence committees, said: “Unprovoked attacks on commercial shipping warrant a retaliatory military strike.”
The Arkansas Senator explained that Donald Trump is legally able to do this under US law because Iran is interfering with the freedom of navigation on the open seas and in the air.
He said: “That’s exactly what Iran is doing in one of the world’s most important strategic chokepoints.”