President Donald Trump has said he will decide by May 12 whether the United States will stay in -- or withdraw from -- the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear deal negotiated by the European Union, the five permanent members of the Security Council along with Germany, and Iran. The President regards the deal as deeply flawed, and insists that it must be fixed, not only to address its shortcomings concerning Iran’s nuclear program, but also to counter Iran’s increasingly malign and destabilizing behavior.
On his first visit to the Middle East as Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo was clear about what that behavior entails, as he spoke to reporters after his meetings with leaders in Saudi Arabia, Amman, and Tel Aviv:
“[Iran] supports proxy militias and terrorist groups…It is an arms dealer to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and Iran conducts cyber hacking campaigns. It supports the murderous Assad regime as well.”
Secretary Pompeo declared that the United States will no longer neglect “the vast scope of Iran’s terrorism:”
“It is indeed the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world, and we are determined to make sure it never possesses a nuclear weapon. The Iran deal in its current form does not provide that assurance.”
Secretary Pompeo said no decision on the nuclear deal has yet been made, and that the United States “will continue to work with our European allies to fix that deal; but,” he noted, “if a deal cannot be reached, the President has said that he will leave.”
Iran’s ambition is to dominate the Middle East, Secretary Pompeo said. The United States, however, supports the right of its allies to defend themselves from the threats emanating from Tehran, and will work closely with its allies in the region “in countering these threats and rolling back the full range of Iranian malign influence.”