Washington’s new chief diplomat was to meet Saudi and Israeli leaders today to rally coordinated opposition to Tehran and brief them on President Donald Trump’s threat to end the Iran nuclear deal. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo touched down in Riyadh shortly after Tehran-backed Huthi rebels in Yemen fired missiles across the kingdom’s border. US officials travelling with Pompeo told reporters the Huthi missiles had been supplied by Iran, and cited the attacks as evidence that regional powers should work together. Pompeo had dinner with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, and was due to meet his father King Salman.
Then he was due to fly on to Jerusalem to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then on to Amman in Jordan, wrapping up a weekend of talks with some of Iran’s most fervent foes in the region. Trump is due to decide on May 12 whether to reimpose nuclear-related sanctions on Tehran, putting in peril the landmark 2015 nuclear accord, which most world powers see as key to preventing Tehran from getting the bomb.
But Trump and America’s Middle East allies argue the deal, approved by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, was too weak and needs to be replaced with a more permanent arrangement and supplemented by controls on Iran’s missile program. Pompeo set off on his first diplomatic trip within two hours of being sworn in on Thursday and on Friday — after talks with the NATO allies in Brussels — he appeared to suggest that Trump plans to nix the deal.
“Absent a substantial fix, absent overcoming the shortcomings, the flaws of the deal, he is unlikely to stay in that deal past this May,” Pompeo told reporters in at NATO headquarters.
Perhaps the last chance to fix these supposed shortcomings came from talks between Washington and its European allies Britain, France and Germany on a supplemental agreement to sanction Iran’s missile program. But both President Emmanuel Macron of France and Germany’s Chancellor
Angela Merkel left Washington this week after talks with Trump having failed to secure any promise that he might keep the core deal alive.