During the interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC’s This Week on Sunday, the Secretary of State spoke extensively about the situation in the Middle East. Stephanopoulos asked Pompeo about the announcement made by the Iranian regime about its stepping of uranium enrichment. Stephanopoulos pointed out that the CIA had warned that this would happen if the United States pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or 2015 Iran nuclear deal as it is known. However, Pompeo highlighted that exiting the JCPOA was the best course of action considering that it has had a hugely detrimental effect on the Iranian economy, effectively reducing its capacity to build nuclear weapons.
Stephanopoulos insisted that exiting the nuclear deal has pushed Iran even further towards developing nuclear weapons, but Pompeo pointed out that the Lebanese Hezbollah group is struggling, as are Iran’s Shia militias in Iraq. He also said that “terror attacks around the world increased under the JCPOA”.
The US Secretary of State said that the administration’s aim is to negotiate and emphasised that President Trump has repeatedly offered to meet with the Iranian President with no preconditions. He said that the United States does not want military conflict. “What we want is that revolutionary regime to stop its efforts around the world to put Israel at risk, to put the American people at risk, and deliver national security for the American people. That’s the outcome we’re looking for. Iran will never have a nuclear weapon on President Trump’s watch.”
Asked whether he thought there would ever be a meeting between President Trump and President Rouhani, Pompeo said he was unsure and it all depends on the Iranian Supreme Leader.
In an interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday, Pompeo was also asked whether the Trump administration’s actions towards Iran are producing the desired results, especially considering that the regime has just announced that it will be using advanced centrifuges to speed up the process of uranium enrichment. Wallace said that sanctions, despite “hammering the economy”, don’t seem to be stopping Iran. Pompeo responded that the rest of the world has yet to take action. He also pointed out that the previous administration’s treatment of Iran has exacerbated Iran’s behaviour.
Pompeo said that the Iranian regime had effectively been handed billions of dollars which has allowed Iran to build on its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. He reasserted that the nuclear deal was a complete failure that gave Iran the upper hand because it allowed Iran to re-start its programs whenever it wanted.
Pompeo explained that the Trump administration has approached the situation from a different angle – it has built alliances with Israel, Gulf States, and other nations that are conscious of the Iran threat. He pointed out that the Iranian economy is struggling and that the country’s GDP could shrink by around 12 to 14 per cent this year, massively reducing its capacity to acquire that it needs to “inflict terror around the world”.