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Pompeo says U.S. weighing "full range" of options to counter Iran, including military strike

Pompeo: Trump doesn't want war with Iran but will "defend American interests
Pompeo: Trump doesn't war with Iran but will "defend American interests" 09:37

Amid simmering tensions between the U.S. and Iran over recent attacks on civilian oil tankers in the Middle East, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Trump administration is considering a "full range of options" — including a military strike — to counter belligerent moves by the government in Tehran. 

"The United States is considering a full range of options," Pompeo said on "Face the Nation" Sunday. "We have briefed the president a couple of times. We'll continue to keep him updated. We are confident that we can take a set of actions that can restore deterrence which is our mission set."

Pressed on whether military actions against Iran were also being discussed, America's chief diplomat replied, "Of course." 

Asked if the administration had the legal authorization to strike Iran without congressional approval, Pompeo suggested he believes it does. "We always have the authorization to defend American interests," he said, adding that the administration would only take steps that were "lawful."

Last week, Pompeo and other U.S. officials accused the Iranian government of attacking two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, an important waterway near the Arabian Peninsula for oil exports. He said U.S. intelligence suggested the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — an elite military unit charged with exerting Tehran's influence around the world — was behind the attacks.

On Sunday, Pompeo doubled down on the accusations and said the attacks — as well Tehran's decision to ramp up nuclear fuel production — were signs that President Trump made the right decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known as the Iran nuclear deal, which was designed to ensure Tehran gradually eliminated its uranium stockpile in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

Although European allies are still abiding by it, Mr. Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement in May 2018, deriding it as a one-sided deal.   

"We don't want Iran to get a nuclear weapon," Pompeo said Sunday. "The previous administration put them on a pathway that virtually guaranteed that they could get there. So we withdrew from the ridiculous JCPOA and are moving ourselves towards a set of policies which will convince Iran to behave simply like a normal nation."

Democrats and other critics of the administration fear a full-blown conflict that could be sparked as hardliners in both Tehran and Washington, like national security adviser John Bolton, escalate their rhetoric. Pompeo, however, said the White House is only looking to defend American interests abroad and not seeking confrontation. 

"President Trump has said very clearly, he doesn't want to go to war," he said. 

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