Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo with James Rosen of Sinclair Broadcast Group (Excerpts)

June 3, 2019


QUESTION: Let’s move to Iran. Are you aware of any evidence suggesting that Iran over the past two years has been engaged in the prohibited acquisition of equipment or materiel that would be associated with production of nuclear weapons or nuclear submarines?

SECRETARY POMPEO: So we, along with many partners, both when I was the director of the CIA, were watching closely the activities that the Iranians were engaged in. We wanted to make sure that they were complying with the JCPOA for sure, but even more important than that, we want to make sure that Iran never gets a nuclear weapon. Indeed, that’s why we withdrew from the JCPOA because it presented a clear pathway for Iran to continue to develop its nuclear program.

So yes, we watch. We are concerned. We monitor. We do our best to understand what’s going on. And when we find things that are disturbing to us, we take actions that attempt to reduce that risk to not only the United States but to the world.

QUESTION: And are you aware of any evidence to suggest that Iran has been clandestinely engaged in acquisitions associated with the nuclear supply chain?

SECRETARY POMPEO: James, I don’t want to talk about American intelligence, but we all saw the IAEA report that came out that – with some real changed language. It had some concern about some of the centrifuges that the Islamic Republic of Iran is beginning to put into work – query exactly what the details of that are. I can’t go into a lot here today, but we are watching very, very closely. It raises real concerns about whether Iran is continuing to comply with the JCPOA. But again, I want to stress, just as importantly, we worry about Iran’s capacity to shorten its breakout time and begin to implement the creation of not only fissile material but other elements of their nuclear program as well.

QUESTION: Jeffrey Eberhardt, who is a career nonproliferation analyst and a State Department official the President nominated to serve as special representative for nuclear nonproliferation under you, sir, confirmed to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in writing recently that Iran’s standing as a non-weapons state party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty is not good.

SECRETARY POMPEO: I didn’t say it was – sorry, go ahead.

QUESTION: Do you agree with that assessment by Mr. Eberhardt that Iran is not a member in good standing of the NPT?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, I don’t want to comment on that. I didn’t see the comments that Mr. Eberhardt made. The world should know we watch closely what Iran does. We’ve watched them threaten to withdraw from the NPT recently and —

QUESTION: Are they in good standing?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, I just – I’m not going to – I’m not going to talk about that. There’s a formal process by which we make those determinations and then we respond to them in the appropriate way.

QUESTION: I assume that you are familiar with the contents of the nuclear archive that Israel seized in Iran last year. Do you regard the existence of that archive and any of its contents as constituting a violation of Iran’s international arms control commitment?

SECRETARY POMPEO: It seems implausible that the Islamic Republic of Iran would have chosen to retain those materials, materials about their program, the Amad program that was undertaken by the Islamic Republic of Iran over years and years, it seems unlikely that they would have retained those materials in a way that they’d be organized and collocated and in a central place where they could continue to have access to those materials, if there wasn’t some thought that at some point in time, they might deem it in their best interest to continue to build out on that program.

So yes, we thought it was an important thing that Israel did there. We have learned more about the program, and the mere existence of that program intact indicates that the Islamic Republic of Iran is thinking about the day when they might begin to continue their program in a serious way.

And the other thing I’d say on that, James, is we also watch, right – while some of the (inaudible) was dispersed, some of the infrastructure for the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program was dispersed, those scientists are still out working in laboratories and schools and facilities all around Iran. So we all know how weaponization research is taking place. It can be in a central location, in a big organization, or it can be done in a more fractured, less easily detected way.

QUESTION: In my reporting for the Sinclair Broadcast Group, just recently I compiled a seven-minute story about what is probably the largest revelation to come out of that archive so far, at least publicly, and that is the existence of a previously undisclosed and undeclared nuclear site at Parchin known as the Boroujerdi project.

Has the Trump administration urged IAEA to inspect that site?

SECRETARY POMPEO: James, unfortunately, I can’t answer that question completely, but the American people should know the United States is watching closely each of these sites that we suspect may have engaged in some element of a weapons program. I think it’s abundantly clear that the declaration that was made that formed the basis, the foundation, the declaration about the Iranian weapons program’s history, called the PMD in the JCPOA, that that was fundamentally false. And we have worked diligently to ensure that the IAEA is aware of those things which weren’t accurate, and we have urged them to continue to conduct inspections to validate not only that the basis for the JCPOA had factual inaccuracies, but more importantly, the risk that that creates to the nonproliferation regime that was set up by the JCPOA.

QUESTION: And are you satisfied with the vigor with which IAEA pursues those recommendations?

SECRETARY POMPEO: We always want them to do more.

QUESTION: Last question about Iran, and then we’ll move to North Korea, if you don’t mind.


QUESTION: In a recent interview, you spoke of, quote, the “evil” that emanates from the Islamic Republic. Do you regard Iran as an evil regime?