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Pompeo Says US Will Observe International Law In Case Of Any Strike On Iran

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks onstage during a briefing in Mar a Lago, Palm Beach, Florida, December 29, 2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has downplayed President Donald Trump's threat to target Iranian cultural sites, insisting that the U.S. would behave within the rules of international law.

Speaking to ABC on Sunday, January 5, Pompeo asserted that any U.S. military action against Iran would conform to international law, after President Donald Trump was accused of threatening to commit a war crime by declaring cultural sites can be affected during any U.S. strikes on Iran.

When pressed by ABC's "This Week" host, George Stephanopoulos on the president's Saturday tweet, saying the Geneva conventions forbid attacks on places of worship and cultural objects, Pompeo reiterated, "We'll act lawfully. We'll behave inside the system. We always have, and we always will."

Meanwhile, in a series of interviews on the Sunday T.V. talk shows, Pompeo vowed that the U.S. would not hesitate to hit back hard against Iran's "kleptocratic regime" if it came under attack but pledged that any action would be consistent with the rule of law.

Following Trump’s threat, the Islamic Republic Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, had tweeted that "targeting cultural sites is a WAR CRIME."

"A reminder to those hallucinating about emulating ISIS war crimes by targeting our cultural heritage: Through MILLENNIA of history, barbarians have come and ravaged our cities, razed our monuments, and burnt our libraries," said Foreign Minister Zarif.

Downplaying the controversial tweet, Secretary Pompeo repeated on Sunday, "The American people should know that every target that we strike will be a lawful target, and it will be a target designed with a singular mission, of protecting and defending America."