On the eve of President Trump's decision on the certification of the Iran nuclear deal, CIA Director Michael Pompeo lashed out Thursday at the Islamic Republic in a speech at the University of Texas, calling it "a thuggish police state" and a "despotic theocracy," and comparing its ambitions to those of ISIS.

The hardline speech, delivered as the keynote at a national security forum in Austin sponsored by the university, is "setting the stage" for the Trump administration's announcement on the nuclear agreement, expected Friday afternoon, said one senior U.S. intelligence official.

Pompeo's remarks gave no indication of whether the IRGC, officially the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, will be listed as a terrorist organization, but his remarks were, as the U.S. official said, "an aggressive indictment," using unusually harsh language in describing its operations and Iran in general.

He also suggested that the IRGC is becoming bolder in its operations.

"In recent years, the IRGC has become more reckless and provocative, seeking to exploit the vacuum left by instability in the Middle East to aggressively expand its influence," he added. "It openly vows to annihilate Israel. And when you look at the death and destruction inflicted in Syria, Yemen, and Iraq by Tehran and its proxies, the threat is clear: Iran is mounting a ruthless drive to be the hegemonic power in the region."

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