U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reaffirmed the strength of U.S.-Israel alliance and reiterated America’s resolve in confronting Iran’s threats through maximum pressure during a dinner with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday.
Pompeo arrived in Brussels late Monday for the NATO foreign ministerial meeting, where he had dinner after lighting a Hanukah candle with Netanyahu.
The meeting came days after the top U.S. diplomat slammed Tehran’s testing of a medium-range ballistic missile.
Washington also urged European leaders Monday to enact sanctions on Iran after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tehran tested a medium range ballistic missile Saturday.
“We would like to see the European Union move sanctions that target Iran’s missile program,” Washington’s special envoy to Iran, Brian Hook, told reporters traveling with Pompeo to the NATO meeting in Brussels Monday.
“The United States has imposed sanctions on a number of individuals and entities who are supporting Iran’s missile program. We think those sanctions can be effective if more nations can also join us in that effort,” Hook added.
On Saturday, Pompeo criticized Iran over what he described as Tehran’s test-firing of a medium-range ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple warheads and has a range that allows it to strike parts of Europe and anywhere in the Middle East.
Iran responded by saying its tests were for defensive purposes.
“How exactly is the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism entitled to a claim of defense? In fact, Iran’s security concerns are entirely self-generated. Was a plot to bomb Paris defensive? Was the assassination attempt in Denmark defensive? Is smuggling missiles to the Houthis in Yemen to attack Saudi Arabia and the Emirates defensive,” the U.S. special representative for Iran said.
At the semi-annual meeting of NATO ministers, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert says Pompeo will renew the U.S. call that allies “shoulder a fair share of the burden of responsibility to protect against common threats.”
“This means living up to the pledge that all allies made in 2014 and reaffirmed at the 2018 Brussels Summit to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense by 2024 and to invest 20 percent of that in major equipment,” Nauert said in a statement Monday.
Esha Sarai contributed to this report.