QUESTION: Also today, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un issued a new warning to the United States. We spoke about that and the developments in Iraq with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a broadcast network exclusive.
What is the situation at the embassy right now?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So the embassy is being monitored. It’s safe. The actions that we took today were prudent. Under President Trump’s direction, our team worked together today to quickly, decisively, prudently take the appropriate responses to keep our American people safe.
QUESTION: How close were we to either evacuating any part of the embassy or repelling the protesters or militants by force?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So we never contemplated evacuating the facility today. But the American people should know that President Trump and our team are working diligently to make sure that we keep this facility secure.
QUESTION: To what degree were we caught off guard?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We’ve known for a long time that there was this risk. It’s been 40 years that the Islamic Republic of Iran has been at this, and we’ve watched them continue to take actions. We saw them take actions that killed an American in Iraq just this past week. We saw the United States act decisively to respond to that in a way to signal to them that we would do precisely what I’ve said, precisely what President Trump said we would do, when American interests and American lives were at stake.
QUESTION: To what degree did the Iraqi Government let us down, letting them get as close as they got to the compound of the embassy?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So early this morning, I made clear when I spoke with the Iraqi leadership that the Iraqis have the responsibility to keep our facilities safe.
QUESTION: Did they live up to that?
SECRETARY POMPEO: They have responded. They brought counterterrorism forces to bear. We reminded them throughout the day of their continued responsibility, and we told them where we thought there was risk that things weren’t happening the way we needed it to happen. And so we’ll make sure they continue to live up to their obligation to help keep our facilities safe.
QUESTION: Does that mean we will not see a repeat of this tomorrow or the next day or the next day?
SECRETARY POMPEO: It’s a serious situation. We’re watching. We’ll make sure that we’re doing all the things that we need to do, and we’ll continue to ask the Iraqi Government to do the things that they have a responsibility to do.
QUESTION: Should the American people contemplate being on a war footing in 2020 where Iran is concerned?
SECRETARY POMPEO: This is state-sponsored terror. This is Iranian-backed terrorism that took place that threatened American interests. We’ve taken a fundamentally different approach. We have starved them of resources, we have denied them access, we have put pressure on the Iranian leadership, and I think you see that.
QUESTION: Let me move you to North Korea, because just before you came in, Mr. Secretary, a couple of things were announced by the state media in North Korea. One, that, according to Kim Jong-un on the state media, the world will, quote, “witness a new strategic weapon to be possessed by the DPRK,” meaning North Korea, in the near future, and that North Korea is ending its moratorium on nuclear and ballistic missile testing.
Have you ever been more concerned about the future of U.S.-North Korean relations than you are right now?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I was more concerned about it when this administration took office. We were in a place where it was very likely that we would have ended up in a war with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea. President Trump has taken an approach where we’ve tried to develop a diplomatic pathway. We hope that the North Koreans will reconsider, that they’ll continue down that pathway. It’s important. It’s the right solution. We want peace, not confrontation.
QUESTION: These two announcements do not alarm you?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’m concerned about a lot of things every day, Major.
QUESTION: Right. But I mean —
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’ll be honest. I saw this —
QUESTION: — does it strike you as a turnaway from where you were, where the U.S. and North Korea were?
SECRETARY POMPEO: If Chairman Kim has reneged on the commitments he made to President Trump, that is deeply disappointing. I was there when Chairman Kim made the commitment that said he would not engage in intercontinental missiles or test-firing of their nuclear weapons, testing their nuclear weapons systems. He made those commitments to President Trump in exchange for President Trump agreeing not to conduct large-scale military exercises. We’ve lived up to our commitments. We continue to hold out hope that he’ll live up to his as well.
QUESTION: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, thank you so much for your time.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you very much, Major.
QUESTION: Good to see you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Good to see you as well, sir.