On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke at the Heritage Foundation about the Trump Administration’s position vis-à-vis Iran and minced no words in offering the tough, hard-nosed perspective the administration espouses in dealing with the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.
Pompeo began by noting President Trump’s termination of the United States’ participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal. He stated bluntly, “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.”
Pompeo delineated the flaws of the deal: the weak sunset provisions of the JCPOA, which “merely delayed the inevitable nuclear weapons capability of the Iranian regime” as well as the consistent lying from the despotic Iranian regime about their nuclear ambitions; (Pompeo quoted Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif telling a Sunday morning news show, “We never wanted to produce a bomb,” then commented, “This claim – this claim would be laughable if not for the willful deception behind it.”
Other flaws: the mechanisms for inspection of Iran’s compliance with the deal were weak; the JCPOA allowed the Iranian regime to use the money from the JCPOA to fund murderous groups, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis.
Pompeo also noted that Iran continues to hold Americans hostage: Baquer Namazi, Siamak Namazi, Xiyue Wang, and Bob Levinson.
Pompeo addressed the Iranian people: “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-Qaida? The United States believe you deserve better.”
Then, in as direct an attack on the Iranian regime as could be imagined, Pompeo refused to make a distinction between the mullahs who rule the country and the ostensible political leaders:
And I have an additional point for the Iranian people to ponder. Here in the West, President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif are often held apart from the regime’s unwise terrorist and malign behavior. They are treated somehow differently. The West says, “Boy, if only they could control Ayatollah Khamenei and Qasem Soleimani then things would be great.” Yet, Rouhani and Zarif 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?
Pompeo stated, “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 the starting gun for the march across the Middle East.”
He laid out the principles guiding the Trump Administration’s policy:
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 IRGC Qods Force. They were also providing money to Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations. The Iranian regime should know that this is just the beginning … These will indeed end up being the strongest sanctions in history when we are complete.
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 malign cyber activity. 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 …
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.
Pompeo noted the growing protests in Iran, then pointed out, “The Iranian regime’s response to the protests has only exposed the country’s leadership is running scared. Thousands have been jailed arbitrarily, and at least dozens have been killed. As seen from the hijab protests, the brutal men of the regime seem to be particularly terrified by Iranian women who are demanding their rights. As human beings with inherent dignity and inalienable rights, the women of Iran deserve the same freedoms that the men of Iran possess. But 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.”
Pompeo continued, “Any new agreement will make sure Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon, and will deter the regime’s malign behavior in a way that the JCPOA never could. We will not repeat the mistakes of past administrations, and we will not renegotiate the JCPOA itself. The Iranian wave of destruction in the region in just the last few years is proof that Iran’s nuclear aspirations cannot be separated from the overall security picture.”
Then Pompeo issued the Trump Administration’s list of 12 demands for Iran:
1. To declare to the IAEA a full account of the prior military dimensions of its nuclear program, and permanently and verifiably abandon such work in perpetuity;
2. To stop enrichment and never pursue plutonium reprocessing, including closing its heavy water reactor;
3. To provide the IAEA with unqualified access to all sites throughout the entire country;
4. To end its proliferation of ballistic missiles and halt further launching or development of nuclear-capable missile systems;
5. To release all U.S. citizens, as well as citizens of our partners and allies;
6. To end support to Middle East terrorist groups, including Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad;
7. To respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi Government and permit the disarming, demobilization, and reintegration of Shia militias;
8. To end its military support for the Houthi militia and work toward a peaceful political settlement in Yemen;
9. To withdraw all forces under Iranian command throughout the entirety of Syria;
10. To end support for the Taliban and other terrorists in Afghanistan and the region, and cease harboring senior al-Qaida leaders;
11. To end the IRG Qods Force’s support for terrorists and militant partners around the world;
12. To end its threatening behavior against its neighbors – many of whom are U.S. allies.
Pompeo stated that unlike the Obama Administration, the Trump Administration wants to include Congress as a partner in the process. He also stated that the Trump Administration wants other countries to join the effort, including the Australians, the Bahrainis, the Egyptians, the Indians, the Japanese, the Jordanians, the Kuwaitis, the Omanis, the Qataris, the Saudi Arabians, South Korea, the UAE, and many others worldwide, adding, “Indeed, we welcome any nation which is sick and tired of the nuclear threats, the terrorism, the missile proliferation, and the brutality of a regime which is at odds with world peace, a country that continues to inflict chaos on innocent people.”
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.