Opening Remarks by Secretary of State Pompeo Before House Committee on Foreign Affairs

SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you. Thank you, Chairman Engel. Thank you, Ranking Member McCaul. I’ll do this in less than five minutes. I do have a statement that I’ll submit for the record.

I’m just back from a trip where I traveled to Saudi Arabia and Oman. The central topic of each of those discussions was what we’re talking about here today: the threat posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Some basic facts:

Iran is the world’s number one state sponsor of terror – and the world’s largest state sponsor of anti-Semitism, wanting to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth. You just have to listen to them.

Iran and its proxies are responsible for the death of hundreds of Americans in Iraq, including an American contractor who was killed on December 27th of 2019.

Its forces, Iran’s forces, and the militias it supports, prop up Bashar Assad, undermine democracy in Lebanon and Iraq, and steal humanitarian aid in Yemen.

Speaking of Yemen, the Iran-backed Houthis have launched hundreds of missiles and armed drones at civilian targets in Saudi Arabia – where 80,000 Americans live – since the start of the conflict.

Indeed, hours after I visited our troops at Prince Sultan Air Base on February 20th, Iran-backed Houthi forces launched an attack at the port city of Yanbu.

Iran, too, is responsible for the downing of a civilian airliner in January. A hundred and seventy-six people killed. The regime lied about the tragedy; the regime has still not turned over the black box.

The Iranian regime slaughtered at least several hundred of its own people, with reports of as many as 1,500, during the protests last November. Many millions more have suffered since the Revolution began more than 40 years ago.

Iranians, and those impacted by the regime, are thankful that the United States is finally holding their oppressors accountable.

The Trump administration will neither appease nor tolerate the enormous national security threat that Iran poses to the United States, our friends, and our allies.

Our pressure campaign is aimed at reducing these threats and convincing Iran to change its behavior.

I want to spend one minute specifically addressing the strike on the Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani. He was the regime’s top terrorist and the mastermind of the killing of innocent Americans, Syrians, Iraqis, and others. Removing him from the battlefield was a de-escalatory measure.

His death reduced the risk to our personnel overseas, both my diplomats and our military, and made clear that we are willing and able to impose costs on our adversaries if they threaten or attack us.

I know that, sadly, some American troops were injured during Iran’s retaliatory ballistic missile attack on al-Asad air force base. The limited nature of Iran’s counterattack, however, indicates that Iran’s leadership is not eager to escalate a military confrontation.

They know if we fight, they’ll lose. That’s deterrence. It’s our policy.

It’s not just military deterrence.

The JCPOA had bankrolled the regime’s murderous campaigns of terror and destabilization.

We’ve reversed that appeasement and imposed the most aggressive economic sanctions campaign in history to deprive the regime of at least $50 billion in revenue.

And diplomatically, we’ve rallied allies and partners to ban Mahan Air – a courier of regime weaponry and personnel around the Middle East.

And in part due to our efforts, Colombia, Honduras, Kosovo, Paraguay, and the United Kingdom have declared Hizballah a terrorist organization in all aspects.

That’s real American leadership to confront Iran.

We will sustain our pressure.

We will continue to protect the American people and American interests by any means necessary.

And we will continue to impose costs on the regime for its campaigns of carnage.

And we will work with our allies and partners for a more stable and secure Middle East.

Thank you. I look forward to your questions, Mr. Chairman.

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