Secretary of State Pompeo's Roundtable with the Traveling Press (Exceprts)

January 12, 2019

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear
  • Missile

SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, let me start. We’re now at the second – so look, we’re on the second stop in our swing through the Gulf states. Lots of good friends here are working with us on the campaign to defeat ISIS, our efforts to get Iran to behave like a normal nation. We also are working with our Gulf state partners on our efforts in Afghanistan on reconciliation, efforts in Afghanistan. So there are a broad range of issues that we’ll have a chance to discuss with the Emirati, Saudi leaders, the leaders in Qatar as well. Then our final two stops in Muscat and in Kuwait.

We have a message to them which is the – similar to the message that I delivered when I stopped in Cairo in my remarks, which is the United States is in fact a force for good. We want to be their partners, we want to work alongside them to achieve ends that in their countries’ best interests as well as the interests of the United States.

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QUESTION: Yes. I wanted to follow up on one of the pieces of the fact sheet that went out, the goal of expelling every Iranian boot from Syria, as you all put it. Hoping to hear about how we can do this, like, kind of what the nature is there, particularly in light of the efforts to withdraw.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah. So every Iranian boot on the ground is an ambitious objective.

QUESTION: Yes, it is.

SECRETARY POMPEO: But it’s ours. It is our mission. The tools we will use are broad. The fact that a couple thousand uniformed personnel in Syria will be withdrawing is a tactical change. It doesn’t materially alter our capacity to continue to perform the military actions that we need to perform. But even more broadly than that, the campaign to create a better world, to allow the Iranian people to have opportunity and democracy, has lots of pieces to it – economic, financial, diplomatic for sure. We’re going to hold an important ministerial in Warsaw on February 13 and 14 where the – there’ll be dozens of countries from – I use “nearly every” because I don’t think there’s anybody from a couple of continents, but from nearly every continent. We’ll have countries from Asia, from Western Hemisphere, and certainly from the Middle East and from Africa and from Europe, all attending. And we’ll talk about lots of issues, including how it is we together can get Iran to behave like a normal nation. The same set of things I laid out in May of last year.

The coalition is big and growing, and the tools that we get from having that coalition all working together on that mission give us an opportunity to create that chance for the Iranian people.

QUESTION: It’s fair to say it’s more of a holistic effort to expel – I mean, the U.S. will not necessarily take the lead. This is kind of what you spoke about in taking a greater role.

SECRETARY POMPEO: That’s right. No, we – we’re happy to be an important part of it. It’s an important part of President Trump’s agenda. The nuclear proliferation risks from Iran are incredibly real. The previous arrangement that was struck was wholly inadequate to prevent those proliferation risks. And so our mission set is certainly to stop the terror regime, to stop the fighting of Hizballah and Shia militias and the Houthis, funding the Houthis in Yemen, but it has a nuclear component. And you will see in a handful of days the Iranians intend to launch a space launch vehicle, to put a space launch vehicle up. The claim is that it is to put some satellites in the air; the truth is this will be another step in their understanding of how it is you can launch an ICBM. And that’s in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, and the whole world needs to come together to oppose that.

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