Apr 1, 2019

Scoop: Pompeo warned Lebanon about covert Hezbollah missile factory

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri last month in Beirut. Photo: Jim Young/Pool/AFP

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned the Lebanese government during his recent visit to Beirut that Hezbollah and Iran have set up a new covert factory for precision missiles on Lebanese soil, U.S. sources briefed on the matter tell me.

Why it matters: The sources say Pompeo based his warning on intelligence he received from Israel. Israel is greatly concerned about Hezbollah's manufacturing of precision missiles but hasn't responded with military force out of concern that could lead to an all out war.

The backdrop: Last September at the UN, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed satellite imagery of what he claimed were two covert Hezbollah sites for manufacturing precision missiles. A few weeks later, Hezbollah shut down the sites. Now it seems Hezbollah and Iran have opened a new factory.

  • Pompeo visited Jerusalem two weeks ago and met with Netanyahu, who presented him with intelligence which pointed to a new covert facility in Lebanon, the U.S. officials say.
  • From Jerusalem, Pompeo traveled to Beirut. The U.S. sources tell me Pompeo met with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and warned him that the existence of the new covert missile facility could have consequences for Lebanese security.
  • According to the sources, Pompeo told his Lebanese counterparts that Hezbollah's covert operations in Lebanon raise the risk of a real escalation with Israel. Pompeo wanted to make sure that all the information he had about Hezbollah's activities was also known to the Lebanese government, the sources say.

The State Department told me: "We do not disclose the contents of private diplomatic talks."

Go deeper

Trump: "This is going to be a very painful two weeks"

President Trump said at a press briefing on Tuesday that the next two weeks in the U.S. will be "very painful" and that he wants "every American to be prepared for the days that lie ahead," before giving way to Deborah Birx to explain the models informing the White House's new guidance on the coronavirus.

Why it matters: It's a somber new tone from the president that comes after his medical advisers showed him data projecting that the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans — even with strict social distancing guidelines in place.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 min ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6 p.m. ET: 850,583 — Total deaths: 41,654 — Total recoveries: 176,714.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 6 p.m. ET: 184,183 — Total deaths: 3,721 — Total recoveries: 6,043.
  3. Business updates: Should you pay your rent or mortgage during the coronavirus pandemic? Find out if you are protected under the CARES Act.
  4. Public health updates: More than 400 long-term care facilities across the U.S. report patients with coronavirus — Older adults and people with underlying health conditions are more at risk, new data shows.
  5. Federal government latest: The White House and other institutions are observing several models to better understand and prepare cities for when the coronavirus is expected to peak in the U.S.
  6. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Captain of nuclear aircraft carrier docked in Guam pleaded with the U.S. Navy for more resources after more than 100 members of his crew tested positive.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Paying rent in a pandemic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

For many people who've lost jobs or income because of the coronavirus pandemic, tomorrow presents a stressful decision: Do you pay your rent or mortgage?

Why it matters: The new CARES Act that was signed by President Trump on Friday protects homeowners and renters who are suffering from the response to the coronavirus pandemic — but it's not “a one-size-fits-all policy rulebook,” a congressional aide tells Axios.

Go deeperArrow2 hours ago - Health