U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that the U.S. air strike that killed Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani has made the world safer, and that taking no action would have created more risk.
Pompeo's comments in an interview on ABC's "This Week" follow reports that some senior White House officials were skeptical about the rationale for the drone strike, which they viewed as the most extreme and improbable option in response to Iranian-led violence in Iraq.
"The intelligence assessment made clear that no action - allowing Soleimani to continue his plotting and his planning, his terror campaign - created more risk than taking the action that we took last week," Pompeo told ABC's George Stephanopoulos.
"This was a bad guy, we took him off the playing field," Pompeo added. "And that's important because this was a fella who was the glue, who was conducting active plotting against the United States of America, putting American lives at risk."
President Donald Trump has warned Iran not to retaliate against the U.S. over the killing of the Islamic Republic's top general. The president on Saturday that if Tehran took revenge, the U.S. would strike 52 sites that represent American hostages "taken by Iran many years ago."
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has threatened "severe revenge" on the U.S, prompting the Trump administration to deploy thousands of additional troops to the region. Iraq's parliament on Sunday passed a non-binding resolution that calls for the government to end foreign troop presence in the country.
Democrats criticized the drone strike as provoking a risk for more violence, and argued that the White House did not seek congressional approval or authorization for the use of military force against Iran.
Hundreds of thousands of people filled the streets of Iran on Sunday to mourn Soleimani, and members of Iran's parliament were shown on television chanting "Death to America!" in the chamber.
In a separate interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," Pompeo argued that the White House is prepared for a potential counter-attack from Iran.
"It may be that there's a little noise here in the interim, that the Iranians make a choice to respond," he said. "I hope that they don't. President Trump has made clear what we will do in response if they do, that our response will be decisive and vigorous, just as it has been so far."