Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Trump administration would not hesitate to conduct further military strikes against Iran following the killing of Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani.
Speaking before reporters on Tuesday, the nation’s top diplomat warned Tehran that if it "makes another bad choice," President Donald Trump is prepared to approve further military actions like the drone strike in Iraq that took out Soleimani.
Recent Stories in National Security
"We got it right," Pompeo said of the intelligence factors that prompted the administration to move against Iran’s top general last week. "It was the right decision."
As Iran plots retaliatory attacks, including ones that could take place within the United States, the administration will take decisive action to protect American citizens and its regional assets.
"I think the president’s been unambiguous in his—both the remarks he made down in Florida as well as the tweets that he’s put out—about the seriousness with which we take this, the risk attendant that we are deeply aware of, and the preparations we’ve made to prevent those risks."
"In the event the Iranians make another bad choice, [the] president will respond in a way that he did last week, which was decisive, serious, and messaged Iran about the constraints that we are going to place on that regime so that it doesn’t continue to put American lives at risk," Pompeo said.
Iranian proxy groups have already been mobilizing against U.S. forces in the Middle East. Already, Tehran has threatened drone attacks and touted military plans for 13 separate "revenge scenarios."
Pompeo pushed back against State Department reporters who alleged the U.S. strike was an act of terrorism.
"The Department of Defense did excellent work," Pompeo said. "And the president had an entirely legal, appropriate, and a basis, as well as a decision, that fit perfectly within our strategy of how to counter the threat of malign activity from Iran more broadly."
Intelligence obtained by the United States indicated that Soleimani and his Iranian-backed militias were planning attacks that were "going to lead potentially to the death of many more Americans."
While some have claimed that Soleimani—who was among the most established Iranian military planners—was on a diplomatic mission in Baghdad, Pompeo urged reporters to not buy into Iranian propaganda.
"Is there any history that would indicate that it was remotely possible that this kind gentleman, this diplomat of great order, Qassem Soleimani, had traveled to Baghdad for the idea of conducting a peace mission?" Pompeo asked. "I made you reporters laugh this morning. That’s fantastic. We know that wasn’t true. We not only know the history, we know in that moment that was not true."
Pompeo went on to make clear that his administration’s policy is a marked departure from that of the Obama administration.
"Previous administrations made a different choice," he said. "They chose to underwrite and appease. We have chosen to confront and contain. Those are different strategies."