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Pompeo says Iranians are ‘bloodthirsty and looking for war’ ahead of UN General Assembly

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on July 25, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Douglas Christian/Zuma Press/TNS)
September 23, 2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested the United States has responded to Iran’s alleged involvement in Saudi Arabian oil site attacks with diplomacy, while Iran has been pushing for a fight.

Pompeo spoke about U.S. and Iranian posturing in recent weeks as he and other world diplomats gathered for the United Nation’s General Assembly in New York. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, and foreign minister, Javad Zarif, who both received their visa waivers to enter the U.S. last week may also be in attendance at the UN, according to USA Today.

“We’re looking for a diplomatic resolution to this, unlike the Iranians … apparently the Iranians are bloodthirsty and looking for war.” Pompeo said.

Pompeo’s words come just days after a visit to Saudi Arabia in which he reportedly discussed how the U.S. and Saudi Arabia might jointly respond to the recent attack on two oil production facilities that handled 5.7 million barrels of daily crude oil production and whose loss has removed some 5 percent of the world supply.

Since the attack, Iran has maintained claims of innocence and have differed to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have already claimed responsibility for the attack.

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Pompeo has cast doubt on the Houthi capabilities for carrying out such an attack. Pompeo said the rebels did not possess the sophisticated weaponry for the attack  and that the attack likely originated from Saudi Arabia’s north, in the direction of Iran, according to USA Today.

Pompeo said the weapons used in the attack were Iranian made, but did not share any new evidence for the direction of the attack or any other additional information about the role Iran potentially played in the attack, according to USA Today.

In statements last week, Zarif said Iran does not want a military conflict with the U.S., but warned that the country will defend itself if attacked. Zarif said any attack would result in “all-out war.”

“We won’t blink to defend our territory,” he said.

Trump’s stance on an Iran conflict has differed somewhat from Pompeo’s. While Pompeo previously called the attack an “act of war,” Trump has avoided such terms. Trump has reiterated Saudi assessments of the attack and appeared to suggest the U.S. would not act without first assessing the situation.

In a tweet last week, Trump said the U.S. is “locked and loaded” for a response to the attack, but would wait for Saudi Arabia’s assessment.

It is not yet clear what new information Pompeo has shared with Trump since visiting Saudi Arabia.

Last week Trump did authorize sending a “moderate” number of additional troops to Saudi Arabia, to bolster its defenses against future potential attacks by Iran.

Zarif suggested the U.S. troop movement amounted to “posturing,” but expressed doubt in a de-escalation, USA Today reported.

Trump also authorized Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to impose a new round of economic sanctions against Iran last week.

At the U.N. General Assembly, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Britain’s conclusion that Iran is responsible for the Saudi oil attack, but said he will work with allies to “de-escalate” tensions.