QUESTION: For more on this, let’s bring in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Welcome back to This Week.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Martha, it’s great to be with you. Thank you.
QUESTION: And Mr. Secretary, the Pentagon did announce Friday that in response to the attacks on the Saudi oil facilities that the U.S. will be sending more air defenses to Saudi, President also announcing more sanctions. What kind of message does that send to Iran, a nation that you say conducted an act of war?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Martha, we have 40 years of terror from this nation, and they conducted an attack on the oil fields, one of the largest attacks on the global energy supply in history, and so President Trump’s strategy that we laid out now two years ago is working. We are well on our way to forcing the Iranian regime to ultimately make the decision to become a normal nation. That’s all we have ever asked.
And so the President made a couple decisions on Friday. We tightened sanctions on the regime, which put the revolutionary regime in a difficult position. The Iranian people applaud that. They understand that their leaders are taking them in a direction that is not good for their country. And we then announced that we’re going to move some additional forces. The Secretary of Defense talked about that on Friday evening.
Each of those is aimed at deterrence. We do want a peaceful resolution of this. That’s our objective. We hope that the added deterrence, the work that we’ve done in the Strait of Hormuz to keep the straits open, and now the additional air defense systems and capabilities that we’ll put in the region, will achieve just that.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the Saudis reportedly already have over a dozen Patriot missile batteries, and yet a swarm of explosive-laden drones and cruise missiles got through. What does sending a few more air defenses over there do that those other air defenses did not?
SECRETARY POMPEO: It’ll improve. It’s about volume and density, Martha. You know this story well. It’ll improve the capabilities for them. We’re going to assist the Emiratis as well. We’re going to strengthen all of the capabilities there. It will make it more difficult – and I’m glad you – I’m glad you acknowledged this was an Iranian attack with land-attack cruise missiles and UAVs that took place, an act of war by a state.
I’m here in New York. We’ll be at the UN all week talking about that. We hope the United Nations will take a strong position. It was designed exactly for this kind of thing, where one country attacks another country, and we hope the United Nations will rally around what it is I know the Iranian people want: a peaceful resolution and an Iranian regime that is not engaged in over five countries in terror and mayhem.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you say the plan is working, but the stated purpose of the maximum pressure campaign is to reduce Iran’s malign activity and prevent them from getting nuclear weapons through tough economic sanctions. Let me just go through this.
Since you pulled out of the nuclear deal, there have been attacks on oil tankers, shooting down a sophisticated drone that cost more than $100 million, the attack on the Saudi oil fields, and posing such a threat in Iraq that we closed the consulate in Basra and reduced our diplomatic corps by about 50 percent, and Iran is now breaking the JCPOA limits on enrichment and storage.
So isn’t this campaign having the opposite effect you hoped for?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, Martha, some of the facts you had there aren’t quite right, but you started the clock at the wrong point. Remember, we took over when the previous administration had handed this regime – this revolutionary, zany, zealous regime – $150 billion. They had fueled the very acts which you just described and created the wealth and resources for them to do that. And I think it’s important – I think, Martha, I think it’s important —
QUESTION: But you said some of those facts were wrong, so what’s —
SECRETARY POMPEO: Martha, I think it’s important that all of your viewers understand that during the JCPOA – not after President Trump made the correct decision to withdraw, but during the JCPOA there were dozens of missile attacks into Saudi Arabia by Iranians, there were assassination campaigns conducted in Europe. This regime (inaudible) at this for 40 years —
QUESTION: I’m aware of that, Mr. Secretary.
SECRETARY POMPEO: — including during the JCPOA.
QUESTION: But since you pulled out of the JCPOA, you’re disputing the fact that they bombed an oil field or that the Basra consulate was closed?
SECRETARY POMPEO: No, ma’am. No, ma’am. I’ve said clearly they bombed that oil field, and we are working to extinguish their capability. And we’ve seen it. We’ve seen Hizballah struggle with resources. We’ve watched internal decision making about whether they should arm their army or their air force. They’re having to – remember, Martha, we’ve only had these tough sanctions on since May. We’re talking about less than five months. We’re at the start of the sanctions campaign, not the middle or the end. The Iranian economy will shrink by somewhere on the order of 10 to 15 percent this year, and the regime knows their people won’t stand for this. They know that the Iranian people understand that their adventurism, bringing back dead Iranians from Syria and from Iraq, is not going to sit well with the Iranian people. And that’s who we support and that’s our mission set.
QUESTION: Secretary Pompeo, President Trump has had some very strong words, some very strong tweets about Iran. Let’s go to one of them. “To Iranian President Rouhani, never, ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before. We are no longer a country that will stand for your demented words of violence and death. Be cautious.”
That was a year before Iran shot down that $130 million drone, and the consequences of that were that the U.S. reportedly launched a cyber attack and placed sanctions on the ayatollah. Senator Lindsey Graham said he believes Iran saw this as a sign of weakness by the U.S. Why do you believe the U.S. response now – economic sanctions – is sufficient to deter Iran in the future?
SECRETARY POMPEO: President Trump and I both want to give diplomacy every opportunity to succeed. But I think the whole world knows that when that fails, when it’s the case that we no longer believe that we can convince the Iranian regime to behave in the way that we’ve asked them to behave, just to behave like a normal nation, I think the whole world knows, including the Iranian regime, of American military might.
QUESTION: Are you confident we can avoid war? Iran doesn’t seem confident.
SECRETARY POMPEO: We’re working towards that. I’ve watched. I’ve watched their leadership talk about all-out war, talk about the destruction and death of Israel, wiping the state – remember, Iran began as anti-Semitic, anti-Western, anti-modern. That’s the history of this regime, Martha. You know it well for 40 years. Our administration is taking this on in a serious way, and we are working diligently to see that this has a diplomatic outcome. But make no mistake about it: If we are unsuccessful in that and Iran continues to strike out in this way, I am confident that President Trump will make the decisions necessary to achieve our objectives.
QUESTION: And I want to turn to this whistleblower complaint, Mr. Secretary, the complaint involving the President and a phone call with a foreign leader to the director of national intelligence inspector general. That’s where the complaint was launched by the whistleblower. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that President Trump pressed the president of Ukraine eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani to investigate Joe Biden’s son. What do you know about those conversations?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So you just gave me a report about an IC whistleblower complaint, none of which I’ve seen. I can tell you about this administration’s policies with Ukraine. I remember the previous administration was begged, begged by the Ukrainian people, to deliver defensive arms so that they could protect themselves from Vladimir Putin and Russia, and they gave them blankets. This administration took seriously the responsibility of the Ukrainian people. We’ve provided now on multiple occasions resources so that the Ukrainians can defend themselves. We’ve worked on that. We are working. We’ll see President Zelensky this week. We want a good relationship with the Ukrainian people.
QUESTION: Let me read something that the —
SECRETARY POMPEO: We want them to have freedom and independence. But Martha, if it’s the case that —
QUESTION: You say you know nothing about this, but let me ask you this question. The Ukrainian presidential readout of the conversation said they discussed, quote, “investigation of corruption cases which inhibited the interaction between Ukraine and the USA.” The President tweeted Saturday, “It was a perfectly fine and respectful conversation.” Do you think it’s, quote, “perfectly fine” to ask a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I think I saw a statement from the Ukrainian foreign minister yesterday that said there was no pressure applied in the course of the conversation. I do think – I do think if Vice President Biden behaved inappropriately, if he was protecting his son and intervened with the Ukrainian leadership in a way that was corrupt, I do think we need to get to the bottom of that, Martha. And I hope that we will. I hope that if Vice President Biden engaged in behavior that was inappropriate, I hope the American people will come to learn that. America can’t have —
QUESTION: We’ve seen no evidence of that yet. But I want to go back to the question —
SECRETARY POMPEO: America cannot have our elections interfered with. America cannot have our elections interfered with. And if that’s what took place there, if there was that kind of activity engaged in by Vice President Biden, we need to know.
QUESTION: There’s no evidence of that yet. But if the conversation was perfectly fine, as President Trump said, why not release the transcript or a portion to the public?
SECRETARY POMPEO: The White House will have to explain the – they’re – you know, Martha, they – we don’t release transcripts very often. It’s the rare case. Those are private conversations between world leaders, and it wouldn’t be appropriate to do so except in the most extreme circumstances. There’s no evidence that that would be appropriate here at this point.
QUESTION: Okay, thanks so much for joining us this morning, Secretary Pompeo.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Martha.
QUESTION: Appreciate it.