Pompeo warned Iran, ‘Harm Israel, and US will respond’ — report

New American secretary of state threatened Tehran in run-up to Trump withdrawal from nuke deal, senior Israeli sources quoted as saying; Prime Minister’s Office declines to comment

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L)  with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv on April 29, 2018. (AFP/Thomas Coex)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv on April 29, 2018. (AFP/Thomas Coex)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently warned Iran that if it harms Israel, the American military will respond, the Walla news site reported Thursday, quoting senior Israeli sources.

The sources reportedly said that in the run-up to President Donald Trump’s announcement on Tuesday that the US would withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran, “the US moved to the stage of graduated threats against Iran” in a bid to prevent any flareups in the region.

The (Hebrew) report did not specify how Pompeo conveyed the reported warning.

The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment on the report.

The Trump administration on Thursday condemned Iran’s firing some 20 rockets into Israel from Syria hours earlier, a move the White House warned could have far-reaching consequences for the entire region.

Almost immediately after the attack, Israel retaliated with a sustained bombing campaign, with Israeli jets targeting numerous Iranian-controlled sites across Syria, in the largest ever direct clash between Jerusalem and Tehran.

Pompeo visited Israel last week, soon after taking office, and held talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Pompeo warned then of Iran’s “destabilizing and malign activities” in the Middle East. “We remain deeply concerned about Iran’s dangerous escalation of threats to Israel and the region and Iran’s ambition to dominate the Middle East remains,” he said.

“The United States is with Israel in this fight,” Pompeo added.

Netanyahu thanked Pompeo for his and Trump’s opposition to Iran obtaining nuclear weapons and their commitment to countering Iran’s regional “aggression.”

“That aggression has grown many folds since the signing of the Iran nuclear deal. If people thought that Iran’s aggression would be moderated as a result of signing the deal, the opposite has happened,” the prime minister said.

“Iran is trying to gobble up one country after another. Iran must be stopped,” Netanyahu added, calling Iran’s “marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons” the greatest threat to the world.

Before their meeting at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, Pompeo called Israel “an incredibly important partner” and said it has a “special place in my heart.”

The US secretary’s visit to Israel preceded Netanyahu’s presentation of Iran’s nuclear weapons archive, which Israel spirited out of Tehran.

The cache, Netanyahu said, contained “incriminating documents, incriminating charts, incriminating presentations, incriminating blueprints, incriminating photos, incriminating videos and more.

“We’ve shared this material with the United States, and the United States can vouch for its authenticity,” he said of the information.

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