US government will increase sanctions on Iran – Mike Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pledged that new sanctions would be imposed on Iran as he visited the UAE on Thursday.

Mr Pompeo met Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, for talks on the regional situation and the attacks on oil centres in Saudi Arabia.

“There will be more sanctions imposed on Iran to prevent its continued support for terrorism to groups such as Hezbollah,” Mr Pompeo said.

He said Washington was seeking a peaceful resolution to the crisis in the region after the attacks.

“I hope the Islamic Republic of Iran sees it the same way,” he said after meeting Sheikh Mohamed.

The meeting between Mr Pompeo and top leaders from the UAE came days after the September 14 attacks on Saudi Arabia’s biggest oil production facility that the US says was sponsored by Iran, despite Houthi rebels in Yemen claiming responsibility.

He said there was no doubt as to who was behind the attacks.

“I think it’s abundantly clear and there is an enormous consensus in the region that we know precisely who conducted these attacks. It was Iran,” Mr Pompeo said.

Meanwhile, a leading candidate for the world’s top nuclear watchdog said Iran’s breaches of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers must be tackled by the agency with no bias.

The comments came from Argentina’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, at the body’s general conference in Vienna.

Mr Grossi is one of four nominees competing for the top job at the UN’s atomic energy body.

Observers say that at times the agency has appeared to be too close to Tehran, becoming a de facto defender of the nuclear deal.

Mr Pompeo said that he was in the region to bolster diplomatic efforts against Iran.

“We are still striving to build out a coalition in an act of diplomacy while the foreign minister of Iran is threatening all-out war and to fight to the last American,” he said.

“We’re here to build up a coalition aimed at achieving peace.”

Mr Pompeo has called the attacks in Saudi’s eastern region an act of war.

He said he would present US President Donald Trump with the “latest details of the attack on Aramco”.

Mr Pompeo’s arrival in Abu Dhabi followed a visit to Saudi Arabia where he met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday to discuss “the unprecedented attacks against Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure”.

“The US stands with Saudi Arabia and supports its right to defend itself. The Iranian regime’s threatening behaviour will not be tolerated,” Mr Pompeo said on Twitter.

He also welcomed the news that Saudi Arabia and the UAE were joining the international maritime force to protect shipping in the Gulf region.

Australia, Bahrain and the UK also are taking part but Iraq rejected claims that it would join the coalition.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry also rejected any participation by Israel in the coalition, and said that security in the Arabian Gulf was the responsibility of GCC states.

Washington and Riyadh had agreed that “the Iranian regime must be held accountable for its continued aggressive, reckless and threatening behaviour,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.

“The unacceptable and unprecedented attack not only threatened Saudi Arabian national security, but also endangered the lives of all the American citizens living and working in Saudi Arabia.”

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday displayed the remnants of the rockets and drones that it said were used in the attack the Abqaiq oil processing facility.

The Saudi Defence Ministry blamed Tehran but stopped short of saying that the attack was launched from Iranian soil.

Defence Ministry spokesman Col Turki Al Malki said the country was still working to identify the precise launch point of attack, but said the weapons were of Iranian origin.

Col Al Malki said that the attacks were a mix of cruise missiles made in Iran this year and delta-wing drones that also belonged to the Iranian military.

The Saudi official said all of the evidence would be shared with the UN and the kingdom’s allies.

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