On Monday, answering questions at a news briefing, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo bluntly addressed the November 4 deadline for imposing more severe sanctions on the despotic theocratic government of Iran, saying, “Make no mistake about it, come November 4 there will be a fundamentally different set of rules with respect to anyone who deems it necessary to engage with — in economic activity with the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Pompeo had already been asked about former Secretary of State John Kerry’s machinations in which he spoke with Iranian leaders, triggering President Trump to term the meetings “illegal.” Pompeo answered:
I’ll leave the legal determinations to others. But what Secretary Kerry has done is unseemly and unprecedented. This is a former secretary of state engaged with the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, and according to him — right? You don’t have to take my word for it. He — these are his answers. He was talking to them. He was telling them to wait out this administration. You can’t find precedent for this in U.S. history, and the secretary ought not — Secretary Kerry ought not to engage in that kind of behavior. It’s inconsistent with what foreign policy of the United States is, as directed by this President, and it is beyond inappropriate for him to be engaged in this.
Later Pompeo was asked, “Do you think that this effort that you were discussing with the JCPOA, do you think it goes beyond those you mentioned, Secretary Kerry and Wendy Sherman? Do you think there are other former administration officials who are advising the Europeans and the Iranians? And will the administration sanction members or the board members or the entity of SWIFT if they continue to process Iranian transactions?”
Pompeo had a blunt response, asserting:
So second question first. I don’t know the decision with respect to SWIFT in particular. There are still a number of decisions pending before the November 1 deadline — excuse me, November 4 deadline that we’ve got to make about waivers or potential waivers, and we’re working our way through each of those. But make no mistake about it, come November 4 there will be a fundamentally different set of rules with respect to anyone who deems it necessary to engage with — in economic activity with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
It is a big, important day. You can see many countries already taking actions to move out of Iran, to discontinue doing business with them in advance of the November 4 deadline. They understand I think not only the seriousness of the U.S. sanctions but I think they’re also coming to see that this activity is supporting the exact kinds of malign activity that President Trump has been talking about since the first day he took office, whether it’s providing missiles that the Houthis launch into airports in the Gulf states or the activities we’ve seen taken by Shia militias against American interests or the assassination efforts underway in the heart of Europe.
I think the world is beginning to see that the challenge is much bigger than anything that the JCPOA even pretended to have addressed. And I also see they’re thinking comments — they’re seeing statements like the ones that the Iranians have said this week. They’ve said, “boy, if we end up withdrawing, we’ll start from a much higher level.” I may have the quote off just a little bit but I’m very close. Wow, what does that say about the existence of the agreement, right? They’re going to start from a much higher level. It tells you that the agreement itself didn’t stop all of the paths to nuclear weapons in the way that it was sold to the American people.