Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Tony Perkins of Washington Watch (Excerpts)

April 24, 2020

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear
  • Missile
  • Military

Related Country: 

  • United States


QUESTION: Well, I’m doing fine. It is Friday. That’s always nice when we come to the end of the week. And I’m sure you’ve had a busy week with what’s been happening with – I’ll just stick with Iran, for one, as they have reportedly launched a satellite, a military satellite, revealing a space program that many were not aware of. What do we know about this? Is this real?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, Tony, thanks for asking. It is real. This is a program that has been talked about some, the United States Government has had its eyes on for a period of time but Iran has denied to the world. They have said that their missile program was purely peaceful, that they were working on satellites for the sole purpose of commercial activity, and then this past week announced that their IRGC leadership team had launched a military satellite into orbit. You’ll recall these are the same air and space leaders that shot down a Ukrainian airline flight killing 176 innocent civilians now several months back. This is a regime that, in spite of all the challenges that the world is facing today, continues to be the largest world sponsor of terrorism and the most anti-Semitic nation on the world stage.

QUESTION: Well, Mr. Secretary, I mean, given the technology that they used or the technology that’s used in space programs – very similar to that used for ballistic missile programs, this would suggest that they’ve made tremendous progress in a ballistic missile program that is concerning to the entire world, is it not?

SECRETARY POMPEO: You’ll recall, Tony, when the previous administration entered into the JCPOA, one of the theories was that the deal would slow Iran down from doing just that, building out the weapons systems that could threaten the United States from a nuclear weapon on top of a missile that could travel throughout the region or indeed a long-range weapons system that might even be able to reach America. And what you can see is that the money that was given to them under the previous agreement has enabled them to make significant advances.

We’ve been doing our best with our pressure campaign, our diplomatic effort, our deterrence effort, our economic effort to make the Iranian regime less capable, less well-resourced, but they’re still there. And in spite of the fact that they’re having all these internal challenges from the virus, they continue to build away, chip away, showing that they have the real intention of continuing to develop those systems that threaten America and threaten the world.

QUESTION: That’s the only explanation would be that this was from the windfall that they received from the program previous – under the previous administration, because their economy is about to implode, from all indicators, internally, so they’re hurting. This had to be money they had squirreled away from other sources.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Tony, we’ve seen the regime try to use the COVID situation to demand that the United States cease its sanctions campaign against Iran on the theory that we were not allowing humanitarian assistance to be reached or medical assistance couldn’t get to Iran. But I think this system’s firing and the activities that took place this week when they challenged an American ship in the Arabian Gulf, I think that demonstrates the lie, the lie that the regime has that squirreled away tens or hundreds of billions of dollars.

What it really tells you is they have that money. They have the resources to continue to build out these programs. They continue to threaten the world. But they choose to use it for those systems, to foment terror rather than to feed and to clothe and to provide the medical assistance that the people of their own country need. It is why we make very clear we are wholly supportive of the Iranian people, and we’re simply asking that the regime change the nature of its behavior and begin to comport with the norms of civilized society.

QUESTION: Yeah, you would think in the midst of this crisis and an already troubled economy that they would turn resources to help their people, but it appears that this is a flexing of the muscle very similar to the leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard General Salami, who basically warned yesterday that his forces would take on the U.S Navy after the President had given them instructions not to be harassed by the Iranian rowboats that are out there in the sea.