May 22, 2019
US administration officials presented confidential briefings to members of Congress, including Senate and House of Representatives, to explain why Washington sent troops to the Gulf region, citing intelligence that Iran and its proxies were prepared to attack US interests in the region.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States has not made “a definitive conclusion” that can be presented publicly over sabotage incidents of oil tankers off the United Arab Emirates or drone strikes on a crude pipeline in Saudi Arabia.
“But given all the regional conflicts that we have seen over the past decade and the shape of these attacks, it seems like it’s quite possible that Iran was behind these,” AFP quoted Pompeo as saying before heading to Congress.
“Most importantly, we will continue to take acts that protect American interests and that work to deter Iran from misbehavior in the region, which has the real risk of escalating the situation such that crude oil prices rise,” he stressed.
He pointed out during a seminar in the Heritage Foundation in Washington that none of the 12 conditions laid out by Washington to lift its sanctions on Iran have happened to date.
He said investigations are still underway to determine the responsible party for the attacks last week.
Pompeo also slammed former US officials – referring to former Secretary of State John Kerry – for calling Iranians to persuade them not to negotiate with Trump’s administration and wait for internal developments after the elections.
“These practices are not only wrong and threaten the administration’s current efforts but might also be considered violations of US laws,” he said.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, who will also brief lawmakers alongside the US military chief, General Joseph Dunford, said the US response had made an impact but warned of continued risks.
“I think our steps were very prudent and we’ve put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans,” Shanahan told reporters.
“I’d say we’re in a period where the threat remains high and our job is to make sure that there is no miscalculation by the Iranians,” he said.