Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Iranian regime is made up of “evil theocrats” who are aiming to destroy the US and Israel, in an exclusive interview with Al Arabiya, criticizing President Joe Biden’s approach to handling the Middle Eastern country.
“We know who the Iranian regime is. These are evil theocrats intent on the destruction of the nation of Israel and the United States of America. We ought not to be negotiating to figure out how much money to give them in exchange for an ephemeral promise for just a moment to slow down their enrichment and weapons program,” Pompeo told Al Arabiya in reference to Biden’s approach to Iran and controversies surrounding the possible return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – also commonly referred to as the Iran nuclear deal.
Former US President Donald Trump exited the pact in 2018, and the Biden administration has sought to revive it in an attempt to control Iran’s uranium enrichment. After more than a year of talks, no agreement has been reached.
“We know they [Iran] lied about the history of that program the first time. Why would we negotiate with someone who has lied about their nuclear program is beyond me,” Pompeo said.
Asked about the resolution adopted by the United Nations nuclear agency IAEA calling on Iran to fulfill its obligation to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), Pompeo said that it was “good” and should have been done “months ago.”
“[Iran has] been in violation of the NPT for an awfully long time. The question isn’t what resolution someone will sign at a cocktail party. It’s what is the enforcement mechanism that one is prepared to use in order to ensure that Iran comes back into compliance with the NPT.”
Iran ‘in violation’ of NPT
The NPT is a landmark international treaty which aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology in an effort to promote cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament, and eventually, complete disarmament.
Opened for signature in 1968, the treaty went into effect in 1970 and was then extended indefinitely in May 1995. It comprises a total of 191 states, including the five nuclear-weapon states: the US, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, and France.
“This isn't about the JCPOA… This is about the NPT, an agreement that the Iranians have agreed to comply with and which the United States has not withdrawn from,” Pompeo said.
“They use the withdrawal from the JCPOA as an excuse. The NPT is still in good standing. The Iranians are in violation of the IAEA resolution [and] now recognize that the fact that the Russians and Chinese refused to sign on to that is a very telling about the direction of the Iranian weapons program.”
When asked to comment on the possible military alternative the Biden administration has been considering to push Iran to execute its obligation, Pompeo refused to comment.
“I don’t want to say much about this. I was the CIA director and then-Secretary of State. It’s just best that I [do] not comment on the military component of this. But it is a fair statement that American leadership, American military capacity and that of our friends and allies and partners in the region have as a no B.S. requirement to ensure that there is not a nuclear weapon in the hands of the Ayatollah Khamenei.”
Pompeo said that it was “too risky” to permit that to happen and said that the US “should take every action necessary to ensure that that does not take place.” He suggested that if he were in office, he would simply “stop giving them money.”
“[Iran is] still paying Hezbollah, they’re still paying Hamas,” he said, in reference to Iran’s activities in the region. Both designated terrorist groups, Hezbollah and Hamas are publicly backed by Iran.
“They’re still engaging terrorist groups all across the world. You can deny them resources. They’ve got to conduct studies. They’ve still got to test missiles. They still have to build out the weapons program,” Pompeo said, adding that enrichment needs to be repaired at both major Iranian nuclear sites Natanz and Fordow.
“I can assure you of this: every dollar that goes to the Iranian regime hastens the moment when they will not only have sufficient fissile material for a weapon, but the capacity to deliver one.”
Trump administration was ‘on the cusp of success’
The ex-Secretary of State said that back when he was a part of the Trump administration, they were “on the cusp of an enormous success,” stating that Iran went from having $96 billion in foreign exchange reserves to $4 billion.
“The sanctions campaign had been in place only for a matter of months. You’ll recall, we [Trump administration] didn’t withdraw from the JCPOA until we were already nearly two years into the administration,” Pompeo continued.
“We placed the maximum sanctions at about the two-year mark. We granted waivers and wind down periods for a significant longer time. So, the sanctions themselves were only in place for about 17 months,” he said.
Commenting on the current administration’s approach and whether it would be able to get the desired effect of the sanctions to hamper Iran’s ambitions, he said: “We don’t have the administration in America that’s prepared to find out the answer to that.”
“The first step has to be to not only impose the sanctions, but do what we did for those final 18 months: vigorously enforce them everywhere and always against the Chinese Communist Party, against the Russians, against everyone who is trying to transshipped this product and evade sanctions.”
If sanctions were imposed and enforced “rigorously,” Iran would be placed in a “very difficult position,” he said, claiming that Iran’s GDP “may well grow faster” than the US this year.
“We unleashed economic rounds of hell in Iran,” Pompeo added.
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