Opinion and Editorial
Logo
 

US mission is to try and get Iran to behave like a normal nation

Filed on December 31, 2019 | Last updated on December 31, 2019 at 08.47 pm

Leaders all around the world have a responsibility to protect their citizens and permit them to practice their faith.

In an interview to Fox News, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the US continues to exert pressure on Iran and its proxies like Hezbollah. US strikes in Iraq and Syria show Washington is serious about taking on any threat from the regime. Excerpts from the interview

What are your views on the persecution of minorities, like the Muslims in Xinjiang, and Christians?

Leaders all around the world have a responsibility to protect their citizens and permit them to practice their faith.  And so there are lots of different reasons for this.  I've seen it in minority communities around the world.  We have a responsibility in the United States to work diligently to help protect these persecuted people wherever we can as well.

The US carried out precision defensive strikes across five sites in Iraq and Syria in retaliation for attacks by Iran-backed militants following Friday's attack that killed an American contractor and injured US service members.  Well, what do we need to know about that, Mr. Secretary?

Well, it begins by an understanding that this was a defensive action designed to protect American forces and American citizens in Iraq, and it was aimed also at deterring Iran.  This was an Iranian-backed rogue militia acting to deny the Iraqi people their basic sovereignty.  It's Qasem Soleimani, it's the ayatollah working to expand their terror campaign all around the world.  They took a strike at an American facility.  President Trump's been pretty darn patient, and he's made clear at the same time that when Americans' lives were at risk we would respond, and that's what the Department of Defense did yesterday.

This administration has pursued a maximum pressure effort against the Iranian regime.  If rockets are being launched against our contractors and our bases in Iraq, you know as - this is approved by Iran.  What are we - how is Iran responding to this?  What do you anticipate from them going forward, their nuclear ambitions?  Where are we in our stare-down with Iran right now?

So it's the case that this administration made a fundamental shift from where President Obama and his team were.  They had greenlighted the Iranian nuclear program.  They had allowed this terror campaign to continue.  Indeed, they had permitted funds to flow into Iran to support and underwrite these very terror campaigns that we've seen carried out.  We took a - we took a very different direction.  We've put enormous pressure to deny resources to Hezbollah, to try and deny resources to militias like the ones that came after American - an Iraqi facility in Iraq yesterday where there were Americans working to - working to counter Daesh.  That's what the Americans are in Iraq for, to take down the very terror threats that are protecting - that are putting at risk the Iraqi people.

Our mission continues to try and get the Islamic Republic of Iran to behave like a normal nation.  We laid out back in May of last year, after the President withdrew from the JCPOA - the nuclear deal - we laid out our demands, our requirements.  We just want Iran to stop their terror campaign.  We want them to agree that they won't have nuclear weapons, that they won't enrich uranium, a set of basic things.

As long as that regime is there, Mr. Secretary, as long as that regime is there, that theocracy, radical regime, you - we can't expect them to act like a normal nation, can we?

It's interesting.  Look at what the Iranian people are telling their leaders today when they walk in - when they march in the streets.  When they march in the streets today, they recognize that it is their leadership that has led them astray.  It's their leadership that has denied them the ability to feed their families and to have prosperity and security.

I think the Iranian people understand that their leadership's activities need to change, and we have been incredibly supportive of this effort for the Iranian people to get what it is that they so richly deserve, and we will continue to support the Iranian people.  I think when they stare at what happened yesterday, when they see Iranian money launching an attack on an Iraqi facility, I think the Iranian people understand that's not the best use of their money either.

 As the House Democrats drag their feet after impeaching President Trump, now, how is this playing out on the world stage?  What are other world leaders saying about this - this - I would call it a charade? It's the circus going on in Washington.  Does it affect your job overseas as - how are we perceived?  Everything has a - has a consequence.

So for the most part, I think the leaders around the world understand that President Trump and his Secretary of State are focused on the missions that we have set out.  They see it - they see the noise here in Washington, D.C.  From time to time, they'll comment it and shake their heads, but for the most part I think they recognize we have a mission.  My team here at the State Department in 2020 has a set of objectives.  We are very focused on this.  We are - whatever happens here in Washington, the American people should know that President Trump and our national security team are focused on keeping them safe.

Real quick, though.  Last question.  North Korea has been a big issue for the Secretary of State and Defense, and they had promised a Christmas gift, a missile test, if their demands weren't met.  Are you anticipating anything from North Korea, Mr. Secretary?

It's a great question.  We're watching it closely.  We're monitoring.  We're watching the North Korean end-of-year sessions where their leaders all get together has gone on for an additional day.  We're watching very closely.  It's - President Trump set out when he came into office to take down the risk that President Obama had identified of going to war with North Korea.  He did so by engaging in personal diplomacy.  I worked hard on the file as well.  We're still - maintain our view that we can find a path forward to convince the leadership in North Korea that their best course of action is to create a better opportunity for their people by getting rid of their nuclear weapons.  That's our mission set. 

 Is there a point at which the strategy might have to change?

We always stare at it.  We're always looking and thinking, do we have it right?  Do we have the approach right?  At this point, we'll continue to work down this path.  We remain more hopeful than others, but in - North Koreans get to make a choice.  We hope they'll make the right one.

- Fox News

 

 


ERROR: Macro /ads/dfp-ad-article-new is missing!
MORE FROM Opinion and Editorial
MORE FROM Khaleej Times
CurrentRequestUnmodified: /editorials-columns/happy-news-year-progress-positivity-journalism-for-good macro_action: article, macro_profile: , macro_adspot:
 
 
 
 
 
KT App Download
khaleejtimes app

All new KT app
is available
for download:

khaleejtimes - android khaleejtimes - ios