QUESTION: Well, it’s always a pleasure when we can get a guy with obviously deep roots to the state of Kansas here on KCMO. And he is the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, joining us on 710 AM and 103.7 FM. Mr. Secretary, great to have you back on. It’s also great to have you back in the state. You are at K-State this morning, giving a lecture. What do you have going on out there in Manhattan?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Pete, great. Thanks for having me on the show. It is awesome to be back here in Kansas and very cool and a privilege to get a chance to speak as part of the Landon Lecture Series. It is a world-renowned lecture series that’s hosted right here at K-State, and I’m thrilled to be here. Lots of great leaders have had this chance, and I was given this opportunity a few months back and I was happy to accept it.
I’m going to – I want to talk with the students and the community here today about a handful of things that we sometimes take for granted – our unalienable rights and how they impact us here in the United States and how, in the Trump administration, we are working to ensure that we protect America’s ability to continue to exercise those unalienable rights for the years and decades ahead of us.
QUESTION: Well, it’s great to have you back in the state. And I know you obviously have a lot on your plate around the world right now. It’s – there’s never a slow time for you, even though it might be slow for Congress right now. When you look at what is happening right now, Mr. Secretary, with North Korea and some of the missile tests that they are undergoing, it seems like there have been corners of the administration that don’t seem overly concerned about it at this point in time. How concerned are you about what is going on there with Kim Jong-un?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Remember the President’s mission set. We came in when the North Koreans were engaged in behaviors that we needed to fix, and we set about building out a coalition. We were successful at doing that. We got the whole world to join in the toughest sanctions in history. And then President Trump agreed to meet with Chairman Kim. He’s now done so three times. It’s been important, because Chairman Kim has made commitments. He’s made commitments to denuclearize. We’ve made commitments to create a brighter future for the North Korean people.
I’m very committed to working with the North Korean team to negotiate a set of outcomes that will be good for both the United States and the world in terms of reducing the nuclear threat that emanates from the Korean Peninsula, but also ensuring that security and peace and prosperity can come to North Korea as well. We always knew it would take time. We always knew there would be bumps in the road. But it is truly the case that we hope Chairman Kim and his team will deliver on the promises they made back in Singapore in the summer of last year.
QUESTION: Have you waivered? Or how committed do you think they are to those negotiations with you, based on some of those actions they’ve taken lately?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We think they’re still committed. We think they’re still – intend to head down the diplomatic path, and we’re doing everything we can to encourage that, because we think it’s the right outcome for the world. The world doesn’t need conflict. We don’t need nuclear risk. Those nuclear weapon systems that North Korea has been driving towards for decades now don’t provide the security that the North Koreans believe they do. In fact, what will provide them security is coming to a set of understandings with the United States and with the world to denuclearize. And when they do so, we’ll provide the security assurances that are needed for them and for their people. Every nation has the sovereign right to defend itself. Then we can create economic opportunity and better lives for the people of North Korea as well. It’s our mission set. We’re incredibly focused on it.
QUESTION: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo back in the state. He’s in Manhattan at K-State, giving a speech this morning. Kind enough to find a few minutes for us here on KCMO Talk Radio in Kansas City.
Mr. Secretary, you’ve been on the job now for a year and a half, and I’m sure in some ways it feels like much longer. But when you look ahead at the job that you have as Secretary of State, what is the biggest challenge for you moving forward?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Look, I was – before that, I was the CIA director for a year and a half or so. The focus never changes. It is to ensure that every day we make America just a little safer and protect Americans just a little bit better, and deliver American foreign policy around the world in a way that is respectful of these other nations’ sovereignty, but unambiguous about the good that America does when it ventures out in the world.
We are an exceptional country. We sometimes take that for granted, but as I travel around, I remind the world that America, wherever it goes, is a force for good. We want better lives for people all around the world, but our first mission in the Trump administration is to ensure that we’re protecting Americans, helping America’s economy grow, and creating wealth, opportunity, and security for the American people, like those that I’ll be with here today in Kansas.
QUESTION: How about on the Iran front, Mr. Secretary? I mean, there’s reports the President’s requested a meeting with President Rouhani. What can you tell us, if anything, on that front, if that has actually happened and, if so, what those next steps might be?
SECRETARY POMPEO: For months now President Trump has said that he’d be happy to meet with Iranian leadership with no preconditions. But our outcome from those conversations is also unambiguous. They’re conducting terror campaigns around the world today through proxies. They’re investing in missile systems that they’re not allowed to have. They continue – indeed, they announced just yesterday that they’re going to continue to do more research and development on their nuclear weapon systems. Those things are unacceptable.
The United States is determined to prevent Iran from ever getting a nuclear weapon. We came in when the previous administration had given hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to Iran so that their terror regime could grow and prosper. It was crazy. We walked away from that deal. We walked away from that deal because we know that that deal guaranteed Iran a pathway to a nuclear weapon, and we’re determined not to let that happen. And I’m confident that we’ll find a path forward. We have already denied wealth to Iran. You can see it with Hizballah struggling to find resources and money. The Iranian militias around the world are all trying to figure out if their soldiers are going to get paid next week. These are good things. We’ve denied Iran wealth, and therefore the leaders – the ayatollah’s capacity to inflict terror campaigns in Europe, where they have an assassination campaign underway, and all across the world – we’re denying them the resources to put Americans at risk.
QUESTION: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is joining us here on KCMO. Well, Mr. Secretary, you’re obviously aware of the rumors that keep floating out there as to whether or not you might eventually have any interest in coming back to the state and running for Senate. So it’s just you and I, just a couple of guys talking here, there’s nobody listening. So on the outside chance you want to just tell me something or share some information, I’m all ears.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, Pete, I always want to come back to Kansas. Susan and I love it here. We miss it. When I flew in last night, it certainly feels like home. But I’ve seen the speculation. I’ve been unambiguous, but I continue to get asked. I’m focused on what I’m doing every day. I want to be the Secretary of State as long as President Trump wants me to continue to do this. That’s my focus. What comes next, goodness knows. But every day my sole focus is ensuring that I’m doing my best to deliver American diplomacy, and leading my team to successfully protect American people all around the world.
QUESTION: And before we let you go, Mr. Secretary, it’s Red Friday – Chiefs. Can we get a prediction from you? How do you feel like the season’s going to go here in KC?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’ll tell you what, I think the Chiefs are going to have a fantastic season. It looks like KU and K-State may have great football teams. Life is good for football here in Kansas right now.
QUESTION: Well, we’re loving it, Red Friday. Mr. Secretary, great to have you back in the state. Enjoy your time in Manhattan, and we hope to talk to you soon.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Pete, blessings. Take care.