Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Saudi Arabia's leaders Monday to consolidate support for U.S. dealings with Iran as President Donald Trump formally signed "hard-hitting" new economic sanctions targeting Iranian leaders.
Trump said he hopes the sanctions will bring the Persian Gulf nation back to the bargaining table.
“We do not seek conflict with Iran or any other country,” Trump said. “I can only tell you we cannot ever let Iran have a nuclear weapon."
Pompeo met with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss "ways to counter the malign Iranian influence in the region," the State Department said in a statement.
Pompeo also will visit Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates in a bid to strengthen a global coalition against what the U.S. sees as Iranian aggression. The sanctions ordered by Trump are in response to Iran shooting down a U.S. drone last week.
The U.S. claims the $100 million, unmanned aircraft was flying over international waters, while Iran says the drone was over its territory. On Monday, a defiant Iranian admiral said his military stands ready to shoot down more drones.
“The enemy dispatched its most sophisticated, smartest and most complicated surveillance aircraft to the banned area, and everyone saw the shooting down of the unmanned aerial vehicle," Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi said. "We confidently say that this crushing response can be repeated ... and the enemy is aware of this."
Also Monday, Iranian Minister of Communication and Information Technology Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi denied reports in the U.S. media that the U.S. carried out a successful, retaliatory cyberattack that disabled Revolutionary Guard systems that control rocket and missile launches.
Jahromi tweeted that the West has attempted millions of cyberattacks against Iran's military, but that none has been successful.
Trump said he canceled a retaliatory military strike minutes before it was to take place when military leaders told him about the potential for 150 Iranian deaths. Trump, however, secretly authorized U.S. Cyber Command to carry out the cyberattack, several officials told the Associated Press. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the operation.
The Pentagon declined to confirm the cyberattack reports.
"As a matter of policy and for operational security, we do not discuss cyberspace operations, intelligence or planning," spokeswoman Heather Babb said in a statement.
Tensions have been mounting since Trump withdrew the U.S. from a global nuclear deal with Iran a year ago and reinstated economic sanctions. Pompeo is also bound for Abu Dhabi to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who has become wary of Iran's increasingly militaristic influence in the region.
On Sunday, U.S. national-security adviser John Bolton warned Iran not to misinterpret Trump's decision against military retaliation as a sign the United States won't use force to protect its interests in the Middle East. Bolton was in Jerusalem for talks with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif rebuffed U.S. warnings, blaming the economic "terrorism" of sanctions for Middle East tensions. Zarif accused Bolton and his so-called "B-team" – Bolton, Netanyahu, Mohammed bin Salman and Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan – of pushing the United States toward war.
On the eve of Pompeo’s visit to the kingdom, Yemen’s Iranian-allied rebels attacked a Saudi airport near the Saudi-Yemen border, killing a Syrian resident and wounding 21 other civilians, the Saudi military said.
Saudi Arabia has been at war with the rebel Houthis in Yemen for more than four years. The Houthis say the attacks targeting the kingdom are a response to Saudi airstrikes on Yemen that have killed thousands.
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Iran: US botched retaliatory cyberattack, faces 'crushing response' to drones