US AND GULF ALLIES WORK TO OFFSET IRAN MISSILE THREAT
▶ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says expiry of arms embargo would be ‘tragically dangerous’
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington was working with Arab Gulf partners to offset a growing missile threat from Iran.
He also gave a warning that letting a UN arms embargo against Tehran expire in October would create instability throughout the Middle East. Mr Pompeo told The National on Thursday that the US was committed to providing security assistance in the face of Iran’s increasing missile capability.
This week, Tehran announced it was building underground “missile cities” along the Gulf coastline, describing them as “a nightmare for Iran’s enemies”.
“We think it’s so important that the world unites to extend the arms embargo that expires just a handful of months from now,” Mr Pompeo said.
Letting it expire, he said, would be “tragically dangerous for the region and would create instability throughout the Middle East”.
Asked about US efforts to boost the defences of Gulf countries against the missile threat, Mr Pompeo mentioned three routes: extending the embargo, weapons sales and other ways that are not public.
“We have been working with our Gulf state partners – not only to get them to assist the US efforts to extend this arms embargo, which is very important for them – but also we provided a great deal of assistance, all kinds of US sales of weapons,” he said. “Those are all public.”
Mr Pompeo said there were “things we can do both publicly and otherwise to help provide security in the face of an increasing capability of the Iranians to fire missiles all throughout the region”.
He described Iran’s goal as one to “ultimately establish missile capability that is robust enough to defeat missile-defence capabilities throughout the region and strike in places that are beyond their near neighbourhood”. A UN report released in June found Iran to be the origin of the cruise missiles that struck oil plants in Saudi Arabia in September. Mr Pompeo mentioned recent satellite launches by Iran as another aspect of the missile threat.
“We watched as they continued to build their space vehicle programme,” he said. “They would of course claim it is for civilian purposes, to put a commercial satellite up, but the world is smarter than that.”