Pompeo: ‘We’ve Just Scratched the Surface’ on Iran Nukes

YERUSHALAYIM -

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said in response to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s presentation on Iran’s secret nuclear program that the U.S. had long known about it, but that Israeli intelligence adds vast materials which must be examined.

Pompeo agreed with Netanyahu that the documents make “very clear that at the very least the Iranians have continued to lie to their own people.”

Asked at a press briefing whether the information indicated a violation of the Iran nuclear agreement, Pompeo responded: “I’ll leave that to lawyers. The president will ultimately have to make a determination about that too. You should remember there are still many, many documents that we’ve not had the opportunity to go through yet. It’s complex, a lot of translation work. There’s just a — it’s just a significant undertaking. We’ve so far just scratched the surface.”

Pompeo would not speculate on the timing or motivation in Israel releasing the evidence now, if it was in order to influence the President’s decision or to support it?

“I don’t know. I don’t know why they chose that timing,” he answered.

Regarding the potentially negative impact on U.S. relations with Europe, which wants to keep the Iran deal while Trump may dump it:

“I’d say two things. One, we’re working diligently to fix this thing. I mean, on the plane we’ve been working to try and get language right that will address President Trump’s concerns. So, we’re still working our way there.”

“And then a second thing I’d say is we’ve had lots of conversations with the Europeans. We know what it is they’re hoping to achieve. We share the same end goal to keep the Iranians from ever having a nuclear weapon. I am confident that we will continue to have good relations with our European partners, should the President choose to pull out of this. This will be one issue among many of the important, critical issues that we all work on together.”

Pompeo, in a somewhat satirical vein, questioned the reason for the archive’s existence if Tehran had abandoned its nuclear program, as it claimed.

“We now know that they continued to store this material in an orderly fashion for some purpose — right? They kept the documents for a reason, and one can speculate as to why. If you said you were never — right? — the JCPOA says you’ll never, ever have a nuclear weapons program — right? Or maybe not with a not a never ever. You won’t ever have a nuclear weapons program. But you chose to store in secret and hide these documents?”

To a reporter’s suggestion that it might have been for the “historical record — You’re not willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that they don’t want to destroy their history or … ”

The secretary cut in, saying “The world can decide if this was for the Iranian museum that they — that they decided to hang onto it,” eliciting general laughter.

A White Statement following Netanyahu’s speech said:

“The United States is aware of the information just released by Israel and continues to examine it carefully. This information provides new and compelling details about Iran’s efforts to develop missile-deliverable nuclear weapons. These facts are consistent with what the United States has long known: Iran has a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it has tried and failed to hide from the world and from its own people. The Iranian regime has shown it will use destructive weapons against its neighbors and others. Iran must never have nuclear weapons.”