US Defense Secretary James Mattis: Iran continues to sponsor terrorism

Iran is continuing to behave as an exporter of terrorism and still sponsors militant activity, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said in London on Friday.

US Defence Minister James Mattis addresses the press during a NATO defence ministers' meetings at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on February 15, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / EMMANUEL DUNAND
US Defence Minister James Mattis addresses the press during a NATO defence ministers’ meetings at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on February 15, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / EMMANUEL DUNAND

Asked about comments Mattis made in 2012 that the three primary threats the United States faced were “Iran, Iran, Iran,” Mattis told reporters that Iran’s behavior had not changed in the years since.

“At the time when I spoke about Iran I was a commander of US central command and that (Iran) was the primary exporter of terrorism, frankly, it was the primary state sponsor of terrorism and it continues that kind of behavior today,” Mattis said.

Mattis’ statement comes just days after US President Donald Trump’s administration warned Iran again over its financial and material support of Houthis in Yemen and reiterated the danger the militias are posing to international waters over the control of the Bab-el-Mandeb strait.

Reports in recent weeks suggested Iranian sources have helped Houthi militias recalibrate their missiles to reach further distances, increasing the chances of attacks on Saudi soil from the Yemeni capital Sanaa.