QUESTION: Let me ask you about Iran. And more specifically my sources, for what they’re worth, and you have better sources than me on these issues, tell me that out of a fear of Iranian hegemony and possibly a situation where we would have a nuclear-armed Iran, that there is a closeness, a bond, the relationship that has been established between the U.S., Israel, the Jordanians, Egyptians, the Saudis, the Emirates, and others, that is at a level that has pretty much been unprecedented since, say, the UN partition plan in 1947 and ‘8.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, Sean, that’s something that’s really very – frankly, very encouraging. The framework that had set the Middle East for so many years was the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and now the major destabilizing force in the Middle East is the Islamic Republic of Iran. And so you see nations lining up, understanding that’s a threat. Whether you’re an Arab nation like the United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia, or a Jewish state like Israel, they see this common threat, and we saw this. We held a gathering in Warsaw, now just a few months back, and we had Arab nations, Prime Minister Netanyahu was there. This is truly historic. And they have come to understand that they have a common threat, and they are increasingly finding ways to work together to keep each of their nations secure.
QUESTION: Until they say they’re willing to have anyplace/anytime inspections and they’re willing to give up their nuclear ambitions, I don’t believe the power of the United States should give them the time of day, and the sanctions should remain in place until they are willing.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Remember, that was the fundamental flaw of the Kerry-Obama deal, the JCPOA, the Iran deal. They allowed Iran to have enormous wealth, lots of money, put cash on pallets and sent it to Iran, and then let them continue to enrich uranium so they had the capacity to build out their nuclear weapon system and foment terror. Those were the failures of the previous agreement the President identified, and I think we’ve made real progress.
QUESTION: Do you think Putin is in part responsible for assisting the nuclear ambitions of Iran and helping them in fomenting terror, fighting proxy wars?
SECRETARY POMPEO: They’re certainly working closely together in Syria today. The Russians and the Iranians are working closely together in Syria. They’ve caused one of the largest displacements of people. Almost now 6 million people from Syria have had to leave their homes. There is no doubt that Iran and Russia are working closely together, and Russia, who was one of the signatories of the JCPOA, has decided to stay in that deal, which we believe is fundamentally the wrong direction for the world to take in trying to constrain Iran.