By Nick Wadhams / Bloomberg News
BRUSSELS — U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo unleashed a new broadside against Iran on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday, asking U.S. allies to “cut off all funding” so the regime can’t finance terrorism.
In a string of four tweets on Thursday morning, Pompeo accused Iran of sending weapons across the Middle East and raised the specter of a terrorist attack on European soil, posting a map showing locations of what it said were Iranian-backed attacks on the continent since 1978.
“There’s no telling when Iran may try to foment terrorism, violence & instability in one of our countries next,” Pompeo wrote.
Calling out Iran has been a consistent theme for Pompeo in the three months since he was confirmed as secretary of State. President Donald Trump backed out of the 2015 Iran nuclear accord in May, and Pompeo later delivered a speech laying out 12 demands — immediately rejected by Iran — to become a “normal” country and stop what he called its malign activity in the Middle East.
U.S. officials are pressuring countries around the world to stop buying Iranian oil, warning they will face sanctions if the fail to do so by a Nov. 4 deadline.
Iran may be a key issue of discussion during Trump’s summit next week in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader has stepped up efforts to broker a deal on the pullback of pro-Iranian militias from Syria’s border with Israel as he prepares for the summit. That pullback has been a high-priority issue for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a top Trump ally.
Trump and Pompeo argue that the Iran nuclear deal — which lifted some economic sanctions in exchange for restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear program — was fatally flawed because it didn’t address the country’s destabilizing behavior or limit its development of ballistic missiles, among other things. At a news conference in Brussels on Thursday, Trump said Iran’s behavior was improving thanks to his pressure.
“They’re treating us with much more respect right now than they did in the past,” Trump said. “And I think — I know they’re having a lot of problems, and their economy’s collapsing, but I will tell you this: At a certain point, they’re going to call me, and they’re going to say, ‘Let’s make a deal,’ and we’ll make a deal.
Pompeo is scheduled to deliver a speech later July 22 near Los Angeles on “supporting Iranian voices” as the U.S. seeks to call attention to what it says is widespread anger toward the regime.