tv Secretary of State Pompeo Remarks on Iran CSPAN May 21, 2018 10:01pm-10:36pm EDT
fox is a press club. on c-span3, treasury secretary steven mnuchin testifies at a budget hearing. that is at 10:00 eastern. at 2:00 p.m., u.s. border security update. [applause] >> secretary of state mike -- he spoke at the heritage foundation. good morning, everyone. i first want to thank the heritage foundation and its president. thank you for hosting me today. first, as a private citizen, and then as a member of congress, and even today, the heritage foundation has shaped my thinking on matters of the world. and public policy issues. i am grateful for that excellent work. and thanks for reminding me i can't talk about anything else today.
but it's an honor to be here. two weeks ago president trump terminated the united states' participation in the joint comprehensive plan of action, more commonly known as the iran nuclear deal. president trump withdrew from the deal for a simple reason. it failed to guarantee the safety of the american people from the risk created by the leaders of the islamic republic of iran. no more. no more wealth creation for iranian kleptocrats. no more acceptance of missiles landing in riyadh and in the golan heights. no more cost-free expansions of iranian power. no more. the jcpoa put the world at risk because of its fatal flaws. and they're worth recounting today, if only for the purpose of ensuring that subsequent arrangements do not repeat them.
for example, the weak sunset provisions of the jcpoa merely delayed the inevitable nuclear weapons capability of the iranian regime. after the countdown clock ran out on the deal's sunset provision, iran would be free for a quick sprint to the bomb. setting off a potentially catastrophic arms race in the region. indeed, the very brevity of the delay in the iranian nuclear program itself incentivized middle eastern proliferation. moreover, as we have seen from israel's recent remarkable intelligence operation, iran has lied for years about having had a nuclear weapons program. iran entered into the jcpoa in bad faith. it is worth noting that even today the regime continues to lie. iraniant month and foreign minister told a sunday morning news show, we never wanted to produce a bomb. this claim would be laughable if
not for the willful deception behind it. not only did the program exist, the iranians took great care, though as we can see now, not enough care, to protect, hide and preserve the work of the gang of nuclear scientists. the jcpoa had additional shortcomings as well. the mechanisms for inspecting and verifying iran's compliance with the deal were simply not strong enough. the deal did nothing to address iran's continuing development of ballistic and cruise missiles, which could deliver nuclear warheads. the jcpoa permitted the iranian regime to use the money from the jcpoa to boost the economic fortunes of a struggling people. but the regime's leaders refused to do so. instead, the government spent its newfound treasure fueling proxy wars across the middle east and aligning the pockets of islamic revolutionary guard corps, hezbollah, hamas and the houthis.
remember, iran advanced its march across the middle east during the jcpoa. suleimani has been playing with house money that has become blood money. wealth created by the west has fueled his campaigns. strategically the obama administration made a bet that the deal would spur iran to stop its rogue state actions and conform to international norms. that bet was a loser with massive repercussions. for all of the people living in the middle east. the idea of the jcpoa, as a strategic pillar of stability in the middle east, was captured perfectly by john kerry when he said, quote, i know the middle east that is on fire is going to be more manageable with this deal. end of quote. query whether the middle east is more manageable today than it was when they embarked on the jcpoa. lebanon is even more comfortable
home for hezbollah today than it was when we embarked on the jcpoa. hezbollah is now armed to the teeth by iran and has its sight set on israel. thanks to iran, hezbollah provides the ground forces for the military expedition in syria. the rogc has propped up the murderous assad regime and helped make that country 71,000 square miles of kill zone. iran perpetuates a conflict, it has displaced more than six million syrians and caused over five million to seek refuge outside of its borders. these refugees include foreign fighters who have crossed into europe and threatened terrorist attacks in those countries. in iraq, iran sponsors shi'a militia groups and terrorists to infiltrate and undermine the iraqi security forces and jeopardize iraq's sovereignty. all of this during the jcpoa. in yemen iran's support for the houthi militia fuels a conflict that continues to starve the
yemeni people and hold them under the threat of terror. the rogc has give houthi missiles to attack civilian targets in saudi arabia and the emirates and to threaten international shipping in the red sea. and afghanistan, iran's support to the taliban in the form of weapons and funding leads to further violence and hinders peace and stability for the afghan people. today the iranian quds force conducts covert assassination operations in the heart of europe. we should remember, too, that during the jcpoa, iran continues to hold americans hostage. the two namazis, mr. wong, and bob levinson, who has been missing for over 11 years. i will note for the american people, you should know we are working diligently to bring each american missing, wrongfully
detained in iran, home. the list continues. iran continues to be, during the jcpoa, the world's largest sponsor of terror. it continues to serve as sanctuary for al qaeda as it has done since 9/11 and is unwilling to bring to justice senior al qaeda members residing in tehran. today, we ask the iranian people , is this what you want your country to be known for? for being a co-conspirator with hezbollah, hamas, the taliban and al qaeda? the united states believes you deserve better. and i have an additional point for the iranian people to ponder. here in the west, president rouhani and the foreign minister are often held apart from the regime's unwise terrorists and maligned behavior. they are treated somehow
differently. the west says, if only they could control ayatollah khomeini and suleimani, then things would be great. yet, they are your elected leaders. are they not the most responsible for your economic struggles? are these two not responsible for wasting iranian lives throughout the middle east? it's worth the iranian people considering. because instead of helping their own citizens, the regime continues to seek a corridor stretching from iran's borders to the shores of the mediterranean. iran wants this corridor to transport fighters and weapons systems to israel's door steps. indeed in recent months the rogc has flown an armed drone into israeli air space and launched rockets into the golan heights from syria. our steadfast ally has asserted that sovereign right of self-defense in response. a stance the united states will continue to unequivocally support. so the bet. the bet that the jcpoa would increase middle east stability was a bad one for america. for europe.
for the middle east. and indeed for the entire world. it is clear that the jcpoa has not ended iran's nuclear ambitions. nor did it deter its quest for a regional hegemony. iran's leaders saw the deal as a starting gun for the march across the middle east. so, the path forward. america's commitment to the iran strategy president trump laid down in october remains. it will now be executed outside of the jcpoa. we'll continue to work with allies to counter the regime's destabilizing activities in the region, block their financing of terror, and address iran's proliferation of missiles and other advanced weapon systems that threaten peace and stability. we will also ensure iran has no path to a nuclear weapon. not now, not ever. following our withdrawal from the jcpoa, president trump has
asked me to achieve these goals on iran. we'll pursue those goals along several lines of effort. first, we will apply unprecedented financial pressure on the iranian regime. the leaders in tehran will have no doubt about our seriousness. thanks to our colleagues at the department of treasury, sanctions are going back in full effect and new ones are coming. last week we imposed sanctions on the head of iran's central bank and other entities that were funneling money to the rogc quds force. they were also providing money to hezbollah and other terrorist organizations. the iranian regime should know that this is just the beginning. the sting of sanctions will be painful if the regime does not change its course from the unacceptable and unproductive path it has chosen, to one that rejoins the league of nations. these will indeed end up being the strongest sanctions in history when we are complete. the regime has been fighting all over the middle east for years. after our sanctions come in
force, it will be battling to keep its economy alive. iran will be forced to make a choice. either fight to keep its economy off life support at home or keep squandering precious wealth on fights abroad. it will not have the resources to do both. second, i will work closely with the department of defense and our regional allies to deter iranian aggression. we will ensure freedom of navigation on the waters in the region. we will work to prevent and counteract any iranian maligned cyberactivity. we will track down iranian operatives and their hezbollah proxies operating around the world. and we will crush them. iran will never again have carte blanche to dominate the middle east. and i'd remind the leadership in iran what president trump said. if they restart their nuclear program, it will mean bigger problems. bigger problems than they'd ever had before. third.
we will also advocate tirelessly for the iranian people. the regime must improve how it treats its citizens. it must protect the human rights of every iranian. it must cease wasting iran's wealth abroad. we ask that international partners continue to add their voice to ours in condemning iran's treatment of its own citizens. the protests, the protests of the past few months show the iranian people are deeply frustrated with their own government's failures. the iranian economy is struggling as a result of bad iranian decisions. workers aren't getting paid. strikes are a daily occurrence. and the rial is plummeting. youth unemployment is at a staggering 25%. government mismanagement of iran's natural resources has led to severe droughts and other environmental crises as well. these problems are compounded by enormous corruption inside of iran and the iranian people can smell it.
the protests last winter showed that many are angry at the regime that keeps for itself what the regime steals from its people. and iranians are angry at regime elite who commit hundreds of millions of dollars to terrorist groups abroad while the iranian people cry out for a simple life with jobs and opportunity. and with liberty. the iranian regime's response to the protest has only exposed the country's leadership as running scared. thousands have been jailed arbitrarily and at least dozens have been killed. as seen from the protest, the brutal men of the regime seem to be particularly terrified by iranian women who are demanding their rights. as human beings, when inherent dignity and rights, the women of iran deserve the same freedoms that men of iran possess. this is all on top of a well documented terror and torture that the regime has inflicted for decades on those who dissent from the regime's ideology.
the iranian regime is going to ultimately have to look itself in the mirror. the iranian people, especially its youth, are increasingly eager for economic, political and social change. the united states stands with those who are longing for a country of economic opportunity, government transparency, fairness, and greater liberty. we hope, indeed we expect that the iranian regime will come to its senses and support, not suppress, the aspirations of its own citizens. we're open to new steps. not only with our allies and partners, but with iran as well. but only if iran is willing to make major changes. as president trump said two weeks ago, he's ready, willing and able to negotiate a new deal. but the deal is not the objective. our goal is to protect the american people.
any new agreement will make sure iran never acquires a nuclear weapon and will deter the regime's maligned behavior in a way that the jcpoa never could. we will not repeat the mistakes of the past administrations and we will not renegotiate the jcpoa itself. the iranian wave of destruction in just the last few years is proof that iran's nuclear aspirations cannot be separated from the overall security picture. so what should it be? we must begin to define what it is that we demand from iran. first, iran must declare to the iaea full account of the prior military dimensions of its nuclear program and permanently and verifiably abandon such work in perpetuity. second, iran must stop enrichment and never pursue plutonium reprocessing. this includes closing its heavy water reactor. third, they also provide access
to all sites throughout the entire country. iran must end its proliferation of ballistic missiles and halt further launching or development nuclear-capable missile systems. iran must release all u.s. citizens. as well as citizens of our partners and allies. each of them detained on spurious charges. iran must end support to middle east terrorist groups, including lebanese hezbollah, hamas, and the palestinian islamic jihad. iran must respect the sovereignty of the iraqi government and permit the disarming, demobilization and re-integration of shi'a militias. iran must also end its military support for the houthi militia and work toward a peaceful political settlement in yemen. iran must withdraw all forces under iranian command throughout the entirety of syria. iran too must end support for the taliban and other terrorists in afghanistan and the region
and cease harboring senior al qaeda leaders. iran too must end quds forces support for terrorists and militant partners around the world. and iran must end its threatening behavior against its neighbor, many of whom are u.s. allies. this certainly includes its threats to destroy israel and firing missiles into saudi arabia and the united arab emirates. it also includes threats to international shipping and destructive cyberattacks. you know the list is pretty long. but if you take a look at it, these are 12 very basic requirements. the length of the list is simply a scope of the maligned behavior of iran. we didn't have create the list. they did. from my conversation with european friends, i know that they broadly share these same views. of what the iranian regime must do to gain acceptance in the international community.
i ask that america's allies join us in calling for the iranian government to act more responsibly. in exchange for major changes in iran, the united states is prepared to take actions which will benefit the iranian people. these areas of action include a number of things. first, once this is achieved, we're prepared to end the principle components of every one of our sanctions against the regime. we're happy at that point to re-establish full diplomatic and commercial relationships with iran. and we're prepared to admit iran to have advanced technology. if iran makes this fundamental strategic shift, we too are prepared to support the modernization re-integration of the iranian economy into the international economic system. but relief from our efforts will come only when we see tangible, demonstrated and sustained shifts in tehran's policies. we acknowledge iran's right to defend its people. but not its actions, which
jeopardize world citizens. also in contrast to the previous administration, we want to include congress as a partner in this process. we want our efforts to have broad support with the american people and endure beyond the trump administration. a treaty would be our preferred way to go. unlike the jcpoa, which was broadly rejected across both sides of the aisle, an agreement that president trump proposes would surely garner this type of widespread support from our elected leaders and the american people. in the strategy we laid out today, we want the support of our most important allies and partners in the region and around the globe. certainly our european friends, but much more than that. we want the australians, the bahrainis, the egyptians, the indians, the japanese, the saudi arabians, south korea, the
u.a.e. and many others worldwide to join in this effort against the islamic republic of iran. i know that those countries share the same goals, they understand the challenge the same way that america does. indeed, we welcome any nation which is sick and tired of the nuclear threats, the terrorism, the missile proliferation and the brutality of regime which is at odds with world peace. a country that continues to inflict chaos on innocent people. indeed, while to some the changes we seek may seem unrealistic, we should recall that what we are pursuing was the global consensus before the jcpoa. for example, in 2012 president obama said, quote, the deal we'll accept is that they end their nuclear program. end of quote. that didn't happen. in 2006, the p-5 voted at the
security council for iran to immediately suspend all enrichment activities. that didn't happen. in 2013, the french foreign minister said he was weary of being sucked into a, quote, con game, end of quote, over allowing iran to continue uranium enrichment. in 2015 john kerry said, quote, we don't recognize the right to enrich, end of quote. yet the iranians are enriching even as we sit here today. so we're not asking anything other than that iranian behavior be consistent with global norms. global norms widely recognized before the jcpoa. and we want to eliminate their capacity to threaten our world with those nuclear activities. with respect to its nuclear activities, why would we allow iran more capability than we've permitted the united arab emirates and then we're asking for the kingdom of saudi arabia?
we understand that our reimposition of sanctions and the coming pressure campaign on the iranian regime will pose financial and economic difficulties for a number of our friends. indeed, it imposes economic challenges to america as well. these are markets our businesses would love to sell into as well. we want to hear their concerns. but, you know, we will hold those doing prohibitive business in iran to account. over the coming weeks, we will send teams of specialists to countries around the world to further explain administration policy. to discuss the implications of sanctions reimposition, and to listen. i know. i've spent a great deal of time with our allies in my first three weeks. i know that they may decide to try and keep their old nuclear deal going with tehran. that is certainly their decision to make. they know where we stand. next year marks the 40th anniversary of the islamic republic revolution in iran.
at this milestone, we have to ask, what has the iranian revolution given to the iranian people? the regime reaps a harvest of suffering and death in the middle east at the expense of its own citizens. iran's economy is stagnant and without direction and about to get worse. its young people are withering under the weight of frustrated ambitions. they are longing to pursue the freedoms and opportunities of the 21st century. iran's leaders can change all of this if they choose to do so. khomeini has been supreme leader since 1989. he will not live forever. nor will the iranian people abide the rigid rules of tyrants forever. for two generations the iranian regime has exacted a heavy toll on its own people and the world. the hard grip of repression is all the millions of iranians have ever known.
now is the time for the supreme leader and the iranian regime to summon the courage to do something historically beneficial for its own people. for this ancient and proud nation. as for the united states, our eyes are clear as to the nature of this regime. but our ears are open to what may be possible. unlike the previous administration, we are looking for outcomes that benefit the iranian people, not just the regime. if anyone, especially the leaders of iran, doubt the president's sincerity or vision, let them look at our diplomacy with north korea. our willingness to meet with kim jong un underscores the trump administration's commitment to diplomacy, to help solve the greatest challenges. even with our staunchest adversaries. but that willingness, that willingness has been accompanied by painful pressure campaign that reflects our commitment to resolve this challenge forever. to the ayatollah, to president
rouhani, and to other iranian leaders, understand that your current activities will be met with steely resolve. my final message today is in fact to the iranian people. i want to repeat president trump's words from october. president trump said that we stand in total solidarity with the iranian regime's longest suffering victims, its own people. the citizens of iran have paid a heavy price for the violence and extremism of their leaders. the iranian people long to reclaim their country's proud history, its culture, its civilization, and its cooperation with its neighbors. it is america's hope that our labors toward peace and security will bear fruit for the long-suffering people of iran. we long to see them prosper and flourish as in past decades, and indeed as never before. today the united states of
america is proud to take a new course towards that objective. thank you. [applause] kay: thank you so very much. bold, concise. unambiguous. we appreciate you taking this forum here at the heritage foundation to deliver that message. looking at -- and you listed during your speech several of our allies and friends and partners. many of whom are angry, some disappointed. how are you going to bring them onboard? how are you going to use your
best diplomatic skills to bring them along with us? mr. pompeo: the strategic changes in the world come together when countries decide on an objective that is shared. and that always begins with shared interest in values. i spent the first couple of weeks of my time as secretary of state working to try to see if there wasn't a way to fix the deal. i spoke with my european counterparts and traveled there in my 13th hour as secretary of state. i was on the ground in brussels speaking with my european counterparts. we couldn't get it done. we couldn't reach agreement there. the united states intends to work hard at diplomatic peace of working alongside all of our partners. we focus on the europeans. but there are scores of countries around the world who share our concerns. and are equally threatened by the iranian regime.
it's that shared interest. it's the values that will ultimately drive, i believe, a global response to this -- to the world's largest state sponsor of terror. i'm convinced it can take place. my team is going to work diligently to do that. we're going to do so in the context of trying to address the concerns of all of our partners. and i am convinced that over a ariod of time, there will be broad recognition that the strategy that president trump has laid out is the right one, that will put iran in a place where it will one day rejoin civilization in the way that we all hope that it will. kay: it's clear through your comments this morning that you truly want tough sanctions. i think that there is some remaining concern about how are you going to deal with the nuclear concerns? can you speak to that for just a bit? and let me say to our audience, by the way, that i wish we had more time with the secretary this morning and there will be
an abrupt and a hard stop because we have to get him out to the c.i.a. and -- for the swearing-in ceremony and we don't want you late for that. so, talk to us about -- mr. pompeo: got to go back one more time. kay: one more time. [laughter] it presents the largest, most severe threat for sure. the jcpoa fell short. it was a delay. our aim is to get that permanently fixed. i mentioned quickly, we asked our other middle eastern partners to do hard things. we've put an agreement in front of them and say, this is what you have to do, and they say, hey, the iranians enrich. that's reasonable. that seems to me a reasonable point. our demands from iran aren't unreasonable. give up your program. end it. should they choose to go back and begin to enrich, we're fully prepared to respond to that as well. i'm not going to share with you today what our response will be. but we watch them talk, we've heard them say, i hope that
they'll make a different decision, that they'll choose a different path. we welcome them taking a path that other nations in the region are beginning to take as well. kay: can you explain for us the sanctions structure and how you intend to target the iranian regime without hurting our european friends? mr. pompeo: well, any time sanctions are put in place, countries have to give economic activity. so the americans have given up economic activity now for an awfully long time. and i'll concede there are american companies who would love to do business with the islamic republic of iran. there's a huge market there. it's a big vibrant, wonderful peoples. but everyone's going to have to participate in this. every country is going to have to understand that we cannot continue to create wealth for suleimani. at the end of the day, this money has flowed to him the economics have permitted them to run rough shod across the middle
east. our effort is to strangle his economic capacity to do harm to the middle east and to the world. nuclear programs aren't cheap. to the extent we are effective, at making it more difficult on the iranian regime, we will reduce the capacity to continue to build out their nuclear weapon system as well. kay: you've laid out a very, very bold plan this morning. do you have a time frame for getting all this done? mr. pompeo: the sanctions are back in place and are winding down over the next 155 days. there's lots more work in place. it is an effort across all of government. we are working certainly diplomatically in the lead. but department of commerce, department of defense, each of us has the same mission from president trump. i can't put a timeline on it. but at the end of the day, the
iranian people will decide the timeline. at the end of the day, the iranian people get to make a choice about their leadership. if they make the decision quickly, that would be wonderful. if they choose not to do so, we will stay hard at this until we achieve the outcomes i set forward today. kay: well, mr. secretary, again, on behalf of the heritage foundation and the scholars here who have been working on these issues for a very long time, we want to thank you. again, it was a bold vision, clear, concise, unambiguous. and we want to congratulation you and the president and we wish you god speed. i am going to ask you to remain seated while the secretary exits. i have about eight more questions here. but -- mr. pompeo: for another day. thank you all very much for being here. kay: thank you so much. [applause]
kay: again, thank you all for joining us here. i would invite you to check our website. we have lots of interesting speakers. we have symposiums. we are producing papers on a regular basis. all of which we hope contributes to the ongoing dialogue that we have. i think i have spoken long enough that you may now be released. thank you so much. [laughter] [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018]
announcer: treasury secretary steven mnuchin net and acting testify on the proposed budget for the department before a subcommittee. c-span3.rage on secretary mnuchin was at the white house monday and spoke to reporters briefly about u.s. trade with china. >> i want to be very clear. i think people are making it too big of a deal. that not a surprise president xi asked president up.p to follow asked thetrump secretary of commerce and myself to look into it. -- we were not trying