Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the United States was not seeking a war with Iran, but warned that his country would respond if provoked by Iran.
Pompeo noted that the Islamic Republic had recently “engaged in an escalating series of threatening actions and statements” but failed to provide further clarification of the nature of that threat. Some U.S. officials, however, have said that the Iranian forces have been moving missiles around on boats.
“The regime in Tehran should understand that any attacks by them or their proxies of any identity against US interests or citizens will be answered with a swift and decisive US response,” the secretary of state said.
Pompeo, who cut short his European visit as a result of the latest developments between Washington and Tehran, said the U.S.’ “restraint” should not be mistaken for “a lack of resolve.” He also said that President Donald Trump was looking forward to “someday meeting with leaders of Iran in order to work out an agreement and, very importantly, taking steps to give Iran the future it deserves,” a sentiment previously expressed by the President himself.
Prior to Pompeo’s statement, the United States sent a Navy strike group and bomber into the Persian Gulf due to what it said were “credible” threats against U.S. forces.
On the other hand, Iranian officials have stressed that the country does not intend to engage in conflict with the U.S., which they added is trying to provoke Iran. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said in April that foreign and domestic officials, including security adviser John Bolton, were possibly “plotting an accident anywhere in the region.”
Earlier this week, Iran announced that it was easing adherence to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal, which provides Iran with sanctions relief in exchange for restricting the country’s nuclear program. But the U.S., which left the deal last year, has set a number of obstacles to Iran’s access to the financial benefits of the deal.
“The path we have chosen today is not the path of war, it is the path of diplomacy. But diplomacy with a new language and a new logic,” Rouhani said when he made the announcement.