QUESTION: As the new information coming from Europe where you have these Iranian hit squads roaming about trying to knock off oppositional voices, Denmark, after an assassination plot there foiled, Denmark saying, okay, bring on the sanctions against Iran. And we have a champion in real freedom in the Middle East at our State Department and our White House with President Trump and Mike Pompeo at State, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joins us now to give us the latest on these threats that we’re hearing from Iran about the new round of sanctions, and he joins us now.
Mr. Secretary, good to have you with us.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Hello, Laura. Good to be with you.
QUESTION: So what do you make of that comment from the foreign minister?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So it’s not the first time that Mr. Zarif has made these kinds of threats, but the real decision-making there isn’t him, it’s the ayatollah. That’s who our counterparty is. That’s who is making all of these decisions. You referred to the assassination attempts all throughout Europe. They’re not just the couple from these past months, this has been going on for some time. They’re the world’s largest state sponsor of terror. We saw that their nuclear program continues to present risk to the United States. That’s why the President made the right decision withdrawing from the JCPOA. We ask for one simple thing, right? We want the Islamic Republic of Iran to behave like a normal nation. If they’ll do that, we’re happy to allow them to enter the community of nations, but we have to continue to apply pressure. On Monday on the week ahead, we will put back in place sanctions that will be very severe on the leadership of Iran, and we hope that that will convince them to change their ways.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you have a cold. I can hear it.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Just a bit.
QUESTION: Oh, you poor guy. Well, you’re flying all over creation. (Laughter.) You’re flying all over creation.
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’ll be just fine. No sympathy needed, Laura, but thank you for your concern.
QUESTION: Oh, no, I know. But as a mother, I worry about all my friends who are sick, so thank you for playing sick here with us.
So right now the Europeans – there’s developing persistence, split in opinion on what to do with this Iranian menace. Where is Germany today given the fact that Merkel is out as her party leader? She’s in her last term. Clearly, opposition forces in Germany, more populist anti-migration political elements.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Laura, so far the German Government has not changed its position. It still wants to stay inside of the JCPOA, but nearly every German company – folks with real money at risk – made the opposite decision. They have fled. They have left. They have decided they are not going to run through the Iranian sanctions that President Trump will put back in place on Monday. And there are other countries in Europe who are with us, and I am convinced that over time all of the European countries will come to see that Iran is indeed the force creating instability in the Middle East and that we must apply all possible pressure to push back against that to fix it.
QUESTION: So the sanctions go in place on Monday, correct?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yes, ma’am, Monday.
QUESTION: Okay. And they’ll feel them immediately or will it take a little time to settle in?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So, Laura, they’re already feeling them. But as the days go on, the pressure will increase. We will substantially drop the amount of crude oil, their primary revenue source, that they can ship around the world. Treasury will put back in place sanctions on financial institutions there. And we hope that the sanctions we put on individuals and in other places will convince the leadership. We want the Iranian people to be successful. We want this to be a successful country. We want to restore democracy there. We think the Iranian people want that same thing. And so our aim is not to harm the Iranian people, but to change the behavior, the malign activity of this regime.