Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo arrives for a closed briefing before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S. May 16, 2017. .
(photo credit: REUTERS/AARON P. BERNSTEIN)
Iranian and North Korean nuclear cooperation is “a real risk,” CIA director Mike Pompeo said in a rare public appearance on Tuesday.
Speaking at an American Enterprise Institute conference in Washington, he qualified his concerns about that cooperation and where it could lead, saying, “We think we have a pretty good understanding of what is taking place there today.”
But boomeranging back to his original message, he then said that he was also “the first person to admit intelligence organizations can miss information… we are dealing with tight spaces... sometimes it is hard to detect when information has been moved.”
“If someone asked: ‘Can you guarantee this?’ Absolutely not. But we are working hard to make sure that does not happen,” said Pompeo about whether the CIA could guarantee that it can block and track any clandestine cooperation.
The CIA director also said that part of the reason the Trump administration is so focused on the denuclearization of North Korea is because “North Korea is a proliferation risk… if they have nuclear weapons, or if Iran makes advances in their” nuclear abilities, “then many other countries” are “going to say, ‘Me too!’” While declining to name those countries, his implication was Middle Eastern countries who could be threatened by Iran.
Iran also came up when Pompeo discussed the need for the US to cultivate Sunni partners, specifically mentioning Sunnis in eastern Syria.
“We have made decent progress… forming coalitions not only against ISIS, but against Iran as well,” he said.
Hezbollah also got mentioned by Pompeo when he was listing threats that are getting less public and media attention. He mentioned threats in South and Central America, but then went on to list off, “threats from groups like Hezbollah and al-Qaida, threats like Wikileaks... present real threats to the United States of America.”