Opinion | Pompeo Called Me a ‘Liar.’ That’s Not What Bothers Me.

Opinion | Pompeo Called Me a ‘Liar.’ That’s Not What Bothers Me.


My interview with Secretary Pompeo came two weeks and three days later, in the East Hall of the Treaty Room, on the seventh floor of the State Department. By then an uneasy pause had taken hold; the United States and Iran appeared, for the moment, to have stepped back from the brink of war.

I kicked off with a question on diplomacy. Is there any serious initiative underway to reopen diplomacy with Iran? “We’ve been engaged in deep diplomatic efforts since the first day of the Trump administration,” Mr. Pompeo replied, underlining American efforts to build a coalition to counter and contain Iran.

But in terms of American engagement with Iran, I went on, are there any plans for talks? “The diplomatic effort on this front has been vigorous, robust and enormously successful,” Mr. Pompeo said, changing the subject back to engaging American allies to put pressure on Iran.

Another question I was curious to hear Secretary Pompeo answer was how the Trump administration plans to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons, should it decide to do so, given that Iran is closer to a nuclear weapons capability than when President Trump took office.

Here’s the relevant portion of the interview:

KELLY: How do you stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon?

POMPEO: We’ll stop them.

KELLY: How? Sanctions?

POMPEO: We’ll stop them.

He did not offer specifics. Nor did he elaborate, when pressed on how to square his resolve with what Mr. Zarif had just told me — that all limits on Iran’s centrifuge program have been suspended.

“Yeah,” Mr. Pompeo said. “He’s blustering.”

Do you have evidence that he’s blustering? He did not directly answer. (In fairness, I could hardly expect him to telegraph what intelligence the United States may possess on the Iranian regime’s nuclear ambitions.)



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