QUESTION: Let’s get some insight now into the Iran issue, other situations around the globe. Joining us tonight, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Mr. Secretary, thanks for being here.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Bret, it’s great to be with you. Thank you.
QUESTION: Just listened to your boss say that you need to go to the UN and get these snapback sanctions. You’ve said that you have every expectation that the UN Security Council will do that. What makes you think that?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, Bret, I’ll head up to New York tomorrow, tomorrow afternoon. I’ll meet with the UN Security Council president and then the secretary-general will provide notification of the snapback, and then 30 days from now all the sanctions that were in place will resume. They have been temporarily paused because of the ridiculous nuclear deal, and the world will be a safer place. The Iranians won’t have the chance to have Russian air-defense systems, Chinese tanks, all the things that pose risk and instability in the Middle East. The Gulf states are all excited about – Israel is excited about it. It’ll reduce their risk and it’ll make Americans safer too.
QUESTION: So when China or Russia refuse, is the administration going to hold them accountable with sanctions too?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Absolutely. We have already done that. When we’ve seen any country violate our current sanctions, the current American sanctions, we’ve held every nation accountable for that. We’ll do the same thing with respect to the broader UN Security Council sanctions as well.
QUESTION: What does it say when you tried to get the arms embargo extended on Iran that not one European ally stood with the United States?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, Bret, it’s really unfortunate. It makes the European people less safe. Privately, these countries all tell me that they want this arms embargo extended. They want – they don’t want Iran to have these weapons but they refuse to do the courageous thing, the morally right thing, and vote in support of extending it, all for some holy grail of the JCPOA. But the world needs to know – President Trump’s made clear: We’re going to do the right thing; we’re going to keep the world safer. We hope that the Europeans will come to see it this way as well, but that will – whether the Europeans do or not, it’s never stopped President Trump from protecting America and keeping us all safe.
QUESTION: So in that vein, I mean, can the U.S. work with the Europeans when it comes to Iran?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, we have found places where we can do that already. So we’ve worked on – in the Straits of Hormuz, where we’ve jointly done good work to deter aggression there. So we’ve found pockets and places where we can. We have the same objectives; they just are wedded to this crazy nuclear deal. They’re trying to hang onto it. President Trump’s made clear they’re not going to have a nuclear weapon. They should come alongside us and do the right thing for the world. And this is now the fifth anniversary – the first element of the JCPOA to expire. The Islamic Republic of Iran continues to be enormously anti-Semitic, wanting to wipe Israel from the face of the Earth, the largest state sponsor of terror. We’re doing the right thing. We’re going to get these UN sanctions put back in place and the world will be safer.
QUESTION: Just so people at home know, the JCPOA is the Iran nuclear deal. Do you think the Europeans, like the Germans, want to sell weapons to Iran?
SECRETARY POMPEO: No, I don’t think that’s it at all. I think they have some odd notion that somehow this is actually protecting and preserving some risk that the Iranians will begin their nuclear weapons program. It hasn’t proven to do that. We’ve now, through the sanctions we’ve put in place tonight – over $200 billion to the Islamic Republic of Iran. That’s fewer dollars to put missiles in place that could threaten places like London or Brussels or Germany. I think the people of Europe understand this is the right thing. I think their leaders do too. We’ll lead the way.
QUESTION: Do you think the snapback, if in fact it goes forward, essentially kills the JCPOA, that that deal is done and then cannot be resurrected even if there is a president Biden?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Bret, I know this: I know that the resolutions that were put in place and have been in place for, goodness, over a decade now will be back in effect. And so, yes, I think it’s the case that all of the elements, all of the things that were waived, all of the things that Secretary Kerry and Wendy Sherman have wrought upon, the risks they’ve created in the Middle East and broader places will no longer be the case.
QUESTION: You mentioned Secretary Kerry. Last night he spoke at the DNC. One of the things he talked about was Iran. I’m going to play some things, have you react to them. Quickly, here’s the first one on Iran:
SECRETARY KERRY: For the eight years of the Obama-Biden administration, we led by example. We eliminated the threat of an Iran with a nuclear weapon.
QUESTION: How about that?
SECRETARY POMPEO: That’s just false. They didn’t lead by example; they led from behind. That was their motto. President Trump leads from the front. He’s prepared to take the courageous stands. They didn’t stop Iran from having a nuclear weapon; indeed, they provided billions and billions of dollars so that Iran could continue their nuclear enrichment program and protect themselves from attack. They put themselves on a pathway to a nuclear weapon. That’s what the deal did. We’re going to prevent that pathway from continuing.
QUESTION: John Kerry on Russia:
SECRETARY KERRY: Donald Trump pretends Russia didn’t attack our elections, and now he does nothing about Russia putting a bounty on our troops.
SECRETARY POMPEO: So two pieces to that. First, there’s been no president tougher on Russia, whether that’s our defense buildup, whether it’s the work that we’ve done to provide weapons systems to the Ukrainian people to defend themselves. Remember, John Kerry and Vice President Biden refused to do that. I’m confident that the Russians would rather have that policy denying the Ukrainians weapons. We’ve been tough on Russia; we’ve sanctioned hundreds of Russians for their malign activity. I think this administration takes a back seat to no one with respect to standing up for America, protecting our security, and getting it right with respect to Russia, whether that’s Russian efforts in Afghanistan or in Syria or in Ukraine.
QUESTION: We heard the President answer this, but in your talks with the Russians, did you bring up the alleged bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I did. I’ve spoken with my counterpart, Foreign Minister Lavrov, about that. I’ve made clear to them that threatening American soldiers not only in Afghanistan, but anyplace else, is something that there will be true costs for.
QUESTION: All right, here is Colin Powell on trust. Take a listen.
SECRETARY POWELL: He will trust our diplomats and our intelligence community, not the flattery of dictators and despots.
SECRETARY POMPEO: I have a lot of respect for General Powell. I’ve known him for a long time. This is a President who, when I was the CIA director, always valued the information that I provided him. And now, as America’s most-senior diplomat, I’ve watched him listen, help me get to the right place in terms of how he was thinking about to deliver on his foreign policy. I’ve watched him value these people in important ways. So I’m not sure what it was General Powell was speaking to there.
QUESTION: Last thing. One thing that has not come up a lot so far, and I guess last night was foreign policy – we’ll hear maybe it may come up again – but China has not come up. Is that, do you believe, an opening for Republicans next week on that issue and what you’re doing?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’ve been terribly surprised that the Democrats haven’t talked about foreign policy enough with no mentions of China, the single-greatest challenge to the United States over the next years. The single greatest threat to the United States comes from the Chinese Communist Party. Donald Trump called it early; he talked about it during his campaign in 2015 and again in 2016. And now for three and a half years we have imposed cost on China in a way that has protected the American people from this threat. And when they refused to acknowledge the Wuhan virus, when they said we’re going to cover this up, we’re going to allow people to travel across the world in spite of the fact that we know it presents a threat, President Trump is aiming to hold them accountable for the enormous loss of life all across the world and the trillions of dollars in economic harm that the Chinese Communist Party allowed to permeate all throughout the world.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, we always appreciate your time. There’s always tons of more questions that we want to ask, but we appreciate all the time you give us. And safe travels to the UN.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Bret. Have a good evening.