Secretary Michael R. Pompeo Remarks to the Press (Excerpts)

November 18, 2019

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Good afternoon, everyone.  I have several statements I want to make today, starting with a statement about the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The United States is monitoring the ongoing protests in Iran closely.  We condemn strongly any acts of violence committed by this regime against the Iranian people and are deeply concerned by reports of several fatalities.  We’ve been at that since the beginning of this administration.

The Islamic Republic must cease violence against its own people and should immediately restore the ability of all Iranians to access a free and open Internet.  The world is watching.

The Iranian people will enjoy a better future when their government begins to respect basic human rights, abandons its revolutionary posture and its destabilizing foreign policy in the region, and behaves simply like a normal nation.

The choice is clearly with the regime.

Continuing with Iran, President Rouhani recently announced that Iran will begin uranium enrichment activities at the Fordow facility.  Therefore, the United States will terminate the sanctions waiver related to the nuclear facility at Fordow, effective December 15th, 2019.  The right amount of uranium enrichment for the world’s largest state sponsor of terror is zero.

Iran originally constructed Fordow as a fortified, underground bunker to conduct secret uranium enrichment work, and there is no legitimate reason for Iran to resume enrichment at this previously clandestine site.  Iran should reverse its activity there immediately.

Iran’s supreme leader is reverting to his tried-and-true method of using nuclear brinksmanship to extort the international community into accepting the regime’s destabilizing activity.  The United States rejects this approach completely and calls on all nations to do the same.

The only viable way forward is through comprehensive negotiations that address the full range of Iran’s threats in their entirety.  Iran’s most recent action is yet another clear attempt at nuclear extortion that will only deepen its political and economic isolation from the world.


QUESTION:  Thank you, Morgan.

Mr. Secretary, first on Iran.  How do you balance your support for the Iranian people and the request to topple their government – or sorry, the request to hold their government accountable, and your support for them that has been seen and criticized by the Iranian regime as interference?


SECRETARY POMPEO:  We – I remember how the previous administration treated the Iranian people.  I remember the signs that said, “Are you with us?  Are you with the regime?”  I don’t think anybody in the world has any doubt about where this administration stands.  We want Iran to be a normal nation, and we want the people there to have the freedoms to which they’re entitled, and we want the – we want the regime’s monies to be spent on things that benefit the Iranian people, not proxy forces in Iraq, not underwriting Hizballah, not conducting assassination campaigns throughout Europe.  We want the Iranian regime to behave like a normal nation, to take care of their people, and I think that is what you are hearing and seeing in these protests that are taking place in the Islamic Republic of Iran over these past few days.