Pompeo to 'Post': Biden appeasing Iran would be bad for US security

As a result of the “maximum pressure,” Pompeo said “it’s very clear that Iran is more isolated than it has ever been.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the The Jerusalem Post-Khaleej Times conference
Lifting sanctions on Iran while it continues to pursue its nuclear aspirations will endanger America and the world, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned in an interview for The Jerusalem Post-Khaleej Times conference this week.
“If we appease Iran, if we underwrite Iran, if we allow Europeans to re-enter [Iran] and create wealth for the kleptocrats at the head of this theocracy, that would be a bad thing for the region’s security, for Europe’s security and for American security,” he said.
Pompeo expressed hope that President-elect Joe Biden’s administration “will recognize that this is not 2015… The whole world can recognize that Iran is the destabilizing influence in the whole Middle East.”
The Trump administration left the 2015 Iran deal in 2018, and has maintained a “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign against the Islamic Republic. Biden has said he intends to bring the US back to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran deal’s official name, along with an Iranian return to compliance. Tehran has repeatedly violated the agreement, most recently declaring last week that it would enrich uranium up to 20% in its underground Fordow facility.
As a result of the “maximum pressure,” Pompeo said, “it’s very clear that Iran is more isolated than it has ever been.”
“Our decision to abandon the ridiculous thing called the JCPOA, which enabled, armed and provided resources and money to the largest state sponsor of terror in the world… put Iran in a place where it had to make hard decisions about its own economy, whether to feed its own people or fund Shi’a militias in Iraq and Syria,” he said.
Should Iran change its ways, the US can engage with its regime, Pompeo said, but “if they don’t, the US has to make sure it is part of a coalition that works alongside each other to promote stability in the Middle East.”
Building that coalition was one of the major factors in launching the Abraham Accords, in which the United Arab Emirates established diplomatic relations with Israel in August, followed by Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.
“One of the things that enabled the Abraham Accords was America’s recognition that the most important players in this effort [against Iran] were the countries in the region, Gulf states, Israel – all those players were truly impacted,” Pompeo said.
Still, the outgoing secretary of state said those countries did not just normalize ties with Israel because of the US: “It happened because it was the right thing to do.”
“Those sovereign nations came to the Abraham Accords… because it was the right thing for their own people,” he said. “These commercial, security and diplomatic relationships will continue to grow, and I hope the US will be an encouragement for that.”
The Abraham Accords has allowed the countries to partner with Israel to be “safer, more prosperous and more secure,” Pompeo said.
Normalization with Israel is “the right direction of travel for the entire region,” he added.
Asked if the rioting at the US Capitol last week was an obstacle to more countries establishing relations with Israel in the final days of US President Donald Trump’s term, Pompeo said he saw no connection.
“It’s not binary, normalizing or not. We see lots of countries moving in the right direction even if they have not formally signed the Abraham Accords,” he said.
Pompeo predicted that Muslim-majority nations in Asia and Africa will likely be next to have open ties with Israel.
“It truly augurs well for security in the region,” he said.
Asked about the Pompeo Doctrine, his declaration that the State Department no longer sees settlements as illegal per se, he said: “We knew we had to recognize reality,” adding that the US recognition does not undermine security for any country in the region.
Similarly, Pompeo said that Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish people and Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights are “just reality, and we recognized it.”
“We were told that if we recognize those things, all heck would break loose – and that didn’t materialize,” he added.
At the same time, Pompeo said that the Trump administration worked to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, calling its peace plan “a real, true pathway for better existence for the Palestinian people.”
“The Palestinian leadership must get on board,” he said.