Remarks to the Economic Club of New York (Excerpts)

July 15, 2020

Weapon Program: 

  • Missile
  • Military


QUESTION: And moving – you mentioned Iran. Iran has I guess admitted that it’s building missile cities and that it has a space vehicle program, and we know that they’ve also provided support to the Venezuelan Government. The embargo ends in October. What do you think will happen this fall with regard to Iran sanctions and the embargo?

SECRETARY POMPEO: So I’ll mention only one more thing as a predicate to the answer to that question. There was a news story yesterday about an arrangement between China and Iran that was at least being contemplated. I think that’s very telling about what will happen on October 19th when the current embargo for Iran that prevents Iran from both purchasing most weapon systems and being – and acting as an arms dealer. It would be tragic. This was one of the central failings of the JCPOA, just that that was but a roughly five-year hiatus in Iran being the world’s largest state sponsor of terror and one of its larger sellers of arms to bad actors around the world.

We will work with the UN Security Council to ensure that the arms embargo is extended, and I’m confident that we’ll get that outcome. I believe we have all the tools that we need. I hope we can solve it diplomatically. I hope we can convince the P5 that it’s the right thing to do to extend this arms embargo, to make it an indefinite arms embargo until the Islamic Republic of Iran changes its ways, but in the event we can’t convince them, I’m confident that we have a legal basis and a path forward so that we can, as President Obama reminded us, unilaterally reimpose all of those sanctions. We don’t need approval of anyone. I can find you 15 quotes from Secretary Kerry, from Wendy Sherman, from Barack Obama that reminded the American people that the United States had the unilateral right to reimpose all of those sanctions if we were unhappy with the behavior of the Islamic Republic of Iran. I can assure you this administration is not pleased by Iran’s behavior and we’re going to ensure that this arms embargo doesn’t expire in October.

QUESTION: Could you elaborate a little bit more on Iran’s role in countries such as Venezuela, for example? I don’t think people understand that very well.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, they’re trying to sell – so they’re trying to sell them gasoline. They’re trying to move resource to them. It’s difficult to heavily sanctioned nations – so it’s hard for them to move money around the world, and we’re making it as difficult as possible for them to violate those sanctions. We’re trying to enforce those sanctions with as much efficacy as we can. We don’t always succeed, but I’m confident that we will continue to raise the cost for those two to do business together and reduce the risk that they will come to each other’s salvation.