Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed growing tensions with Iran Tuesday. He spoke to reporters after a closed meeting with military leaders at U.S. Central Command headquarters in Tampa.
He said President Trump does not want war with Iran but says the U.S. needs to be prepared to respond if Iran makes a "bad decision."
“If it makes a decision to go after an American or an American interest, or to continue to proliferate its nuclear weapons program,” the secretary explained.
Pompeo said he talked with military leaders, including Commander Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie and U.S. Special Operations Commander, Lt. General Richard Clarke about a wide range of issues, including the plan to send an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East following an attack on two tankers in the Persian Gulf.
The United States suspects Iran in the attacks.
"We shouldn't just focus on those two attacks,” he said. “Since the beginning of May there are over a half-dozen instances of Iranian attacks in the region, some thwarted, some not successfully thwarted and actually had an impact," he said.
Iran denies responsibility for the attacks, which are still under investigation.
Pompeo added other countries such as China, Japan and South Korea also depend on the region, particularly the Strait of Hormuz, where the tankers were attacked, for economic reasons like transporting oil.
“The United States is prepared to do its part, but every nation that has a deep interest in protecting that shipping lane so that energy can move around the world and support their economies needs to make sure they understand the real threat, the real threat to their interests in the region and the real threat to their country’s economies if we are not successful in doing that,” he said.
Pompeo would not directly respond to an unrelated question about President Trump’s tweet on Monday promising to remove “millions” of undocumented immigrants from the U.S.
Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in. Mexico, using their strong immigration laws, is doing a very good job of stopping people.......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2019
But he did say, “It is an important undertaking to ensure we have sovereignty and security at our southern border, and so every action that this administration is taking is designed to do just that.
"President Trump has been unambiguous, he has been very clear, and I worked personally on an arrangement with Mexico now a week and a few days ago. I am confident we will get that under control and it is important for American national security that we do in fact achieve that.”