This Week in Iran Policy

“Our pressure campaign remains designed to induce Iran to act like a normal country. I urged our G7 partners to go further in joining us – and they should especially stand with the U.S. in ensuring that Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a press availability, March 25, 2020

STATEMENT BY SECRETARY POMPEO ON SUPPORT FOR THE FAMILY OF ROBERT LEVINSON, MARCH 26, 2020

  • “Yesterday, the family of Robert Levinson bravely shared with the world the heartbreaking conclusion that Bob died in Iranian custody. Only Iran knows for certain what happened to Bob since his abduction more than 13 years ago. As President Trump said, we call on the Iranian regime to provide a full accounting of Bob’s fate and will not rest until all Americans wrongfully detained by Iran are back home.”

STATEMENT BY SPOKESPERSON ORTAGUS ON IRGC-QF SANCTIONS, MARCH 26, 2020

  • “The United States announced today the designations of 20 individuals and entities that violate Iraqi sovereignty and exploit Iraq’s economy to funnel money to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF). Some of these people help provide the financial support that enables the IRGC-QF to transfer lethal aid to Iranian-backed terrorist groups such as Kata’ib Hizballah (KH) and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), and engage in other malign activities that undermine the Iraqi government’s efforts toward energy independence.”
  • “Among today’s designations include entities and individuals that exploit for the benefit of the IRGC-QF Iraq’s dependence on Iranian electricity imports. Under a U.S.-issued sanctions waiver, Iraq is permitted to engage in financial transactions related to the import of electricity from Iran. The purpose of this waiver, which the United States is renewing today, is to meet the immediate energy needs of the Iraqi people.”
  • “Today’s designations underscore that the United States will not tolerate profiteering by malign Iranian actors from transactions that take place under the sanctions waiver, and we will remain focused on sanctioning those who do so for the benefit of the IRGC-QF or other designated terrorist groups. Iraq is rich in natural resources and has the ability to reduce its energy dependence on Iran, both for the sake of Iraq’s security and the welfare of its people.”
  • “The United States engages regularly with the Iraqi government on energy security, and we support measures that reduce Iraq’s energy dependence on Iran. We look forward to a speedy resolution to Iraq’s government formation process and to working with an Iraqi government that is committed to providing the Iraqi people with the security they deserve.”

COMMENTS BY SECRETARY POMPEO ON IRAN DURING AN INTERVIEW WITH HUGH HEWITT, MARCH 26, 2020

  • “QUESTION: Topic two before we get to China is Iran. We see what is happening in Iran. The regime is apparently adopting a sort of theocratic fatalism about its people. Who knows how many will die because of this savage indifference? I am curious: Do you believe that the previous American administration could possibly not have known the nature of this regime, or were they simply appeasers and afraid of it?”
  • “SECRETARY POMPEO: Hugh, it’s difficult to know what they were thinking, but it is absolutely clear that the approach that the United States took to the Islamic Republic of Iran in the previous administration set up America for risk, set up the world for a pathway to a nuclear weapon there. You see the way they’re treating their people, the way the regime is treating their people in this time of enormous crisis. You see the way that they continue to spend money. Even overnight, Katusha rockets fired inside of Iraq by militias trained, assisted, support provided, by the Iranian regime.”

    “So there’s the – there are demands that somehow Iran be provided with more resources, more money. I have to tell you, until they conclude that they are not going to spend money on things like their nuclear program, things like the Shia militias, and I can’t fail to mention – you saw the statement by the Levinson family last night. This administration is committed to making sure we get Mr. Levinson home.”

    “When you see the kind of things they’re doing, still taking Americans, holding them hostage, this is a rogue regime and one that I, for the life of me, can’t understand the previous administration’s policy of appeasement with respect to them.”

REMARKS BY SECRETARY POMPEO ON IRAN DURING A PRESS AVAILABILITY, MARCH 25, 2020

COMMENTS BY SECRETARY POMPEO DURING AN INTERVIEW WITH TONY PERKINS FROM WASHINGTON WATCH, MARCH 24, 2020

  • “QUESTION: And I can vouch for both of that, that I’m getting calls from people who are stranded and I’m getting responses back from the State Department that are working to get Americans back home. It is a crisis; the State Department is working it very systematically.

    I want to go to another layer of the concern about why these cover-ups, why this disinformation matters. Because when we look at Iran, we look at China, this disinformation in large part is being disseminated for their own people. They’re trying to turn their people against America because they know that their grip on their – their reign over – the regime – over their people is very tentative, and they want to try to shift the focus and anger toward America away from themselves.”

  • “SECRETARY POMPEO: In each of these places, Tony, the people most harmed by the absence of transparency and good governance are the people of their own country. The people most harmed by Chinese disinformation, the fact that they covered this up early, were the people of Wuhan and Hubei, China.

    “Similarly, today in Iran, the people who are most harmed by Iran’s failure to acknowledge the problem and to accept the fact that they – fact that they allowed Chinese flights to continue to come into the country from Tehran when they knew they shouldn’t have, but they didn’t want to upset their Chinese friends, the people most harmed by that are their own people.

    “I think the people in those countries know this. I think the people in those countries will ultimately hold their leaders responsible for this. And I think this, too, is why this disinformation campaign is taking place. They want to try and deflect responsibility from the poor decisions that those leaders undertook.”

FACT SHEET FROM THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON REGARDING IRAN’S COVID-19 DISINFORMATION, MARCH 23, 2020

  • “Iran’s lack of transparency about its coronavirus outbreak has resulted in a catastrophic public health risk to the Iranian people, as well as to Iran’s neighbors.”
  • “Instead of halting flights to China when the risk of contagion was clear, the regime threatened and imprisoned dozens of Iranians who told the truth about the outbreak. The regime encouraged large public gatherings to try to bolster its legitimacy, with no regard for the health risk to Iranian citizens.”
  • “The regime is hiding a significant amount of information about the coronavirus outbreak. It is likely far worse that the regime is admitting. This lack of transparency poses a significant health risk to the Iranian people, as well as to Iran’s neighbors.”
  • “The United States has and continues to offer humanitarian assistance to the Iranian people to help address the coronavirus outbreak. It is unfortunate for the Iranian people that their government has rejected this offer. Our priority has been to stand with the Iranian people – and this offer is still on the table.”
  • To read the complete fact sheet, follow the link: https://www.state.gov/iran-covid-19-disinformation-fact-sheet/

STATEMENT BY SECRETARY POMPEO ADDRESSING KHAMENEI’S DISINFORMATION ABOUT COVID-19, MARCH 24, 2020

  • “Supreme Leader Khamenei’s fabrications regarding the Wuhan Virus are dangerous and they put Iranians and people around the world at greater risk. Facts matter. Here are a few the Iranian regime would like to keep from the world:”
  • “Fact: In February, Iran’s chief terror airline, Mahan Air, ran at least 55 flights between Tehran and China, further infecting the Iranian people. At least five foreign countries’ first cases of coronavirus were directly imported from Iran, putting millions more lives at risk.”
  • “Fact: The Iranian regime ignored repeated warnings from its own health officials, and denied its first death from the coronavirus for at least nine days. The regime continues to lie to the Iranian people and the world about the number of cases and deaths, which are unfortunately far higher than the regime admits.”
  • “Fact: As Iranian regime officials ask for more funds, it is important to note that since 2012, Iran has spent over $16 billion on terror abroad, and used sanctions relief from the JCPOA to fill up its proxies’ coffers. Regime officials stole over a billion Euros intended for medical supplies, and continue to hoard desperately needed masks, gloves, and other medical equipment for sale on the black market.”
  • “Fact: U.S. sanctions do not target imports of food, medicine and medical equipment, or other humanitarian goods. Iranian documents show their health companies have been able to import testing kits without obstacle from U.S. sanctions since January.”
  • “Fact: The United States has offered over $100 million in medical assistance to foreign countries, including to the Iranian people, and our scientists are working tirelessly to develop a vaccine. Khamenei rejected this offer because he works tirelessly to concoct conspiracy theories and prioritizes ideology over the Iranian people.”

STATEMENT BY SPOKESPERSON ORTAGUS ON THE RELEASE OF IRANIAN NATIONAL JALAL ROHOLLAHNEJAD, MARCH 22, 2020

  • “The United States deeply regrets France’s unilateral decision to release Iranian national Jalal Rohollahnejad from its custody. Rohollahnejad was the subject of a U.S. extradition request. There are multiple outstanding U.S. charges against him related to the illegal export of equipment with military applications in violation of U.S. sanctions. The United States and France have a shared interest in bringing those accused of serious crimes to justice, particularly in cases with national security implications. It is regrettable in this instance that France failed to uphold its treaty obligations and prevented justice from being pursued.”

Notable Tweets:

.@SecPompeo March 25

Instead of inventing reasons to blame the U.S. for his government’s gross mishandling of the #WuhanVirus outbreak in Iran, @HassanRouhani can better serve the Iranian people by saying “Yes” to our offer of humanitarian aid.

.@SecPompeo March 25

Spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud regarding the #coronavirus and we agreed all countries need to work together to contain the pandemic and stabilize energy markets. Thankful for #SaudiArabia‘s partnership in the face of the threats posed by #Iran‘s regime.

@statedeptspox March 23

Conspiracy theories about the #WuhanVirus peddled by @khamenei_ir are harmful, irresponsible, and 100% false. If the so-called Supreme Leader were a true leader, he’d return the billions in his tax-free hedge fund back to the Iranian people to deal with the virus outbreak.

.@SecPompeo March 23

.@khamenei_ir‘s fabrications that the U.S. is responsible for the #WuhanVirus put Iranians, Americans, and the rest of the world at risk. Facts matter. Here are a few:

.@SecPompeo March 23

FACT: As Iran asks for more money, remember: since 2012, the regime sent $16B+ to its terrorist proxies in the Middle East. Officials stole 1B+ Euros intended for medical supplies, and continue to hoard desperately needed masks, gloves, and equipment for sale on the black market.

.@SecPompeo March 23

FACT: The U.S. has offered $100M+ in medical aid to other nations-including Iran-and our scientists are working 24/7 to develop a vaccine. @khamenei_ir has rejected American offers and spends 24/7 concocting conspiracy theories. How does that help the Iranian people?

.@SecPompeo March 23

FACT: In February, Iran’s chief terror airline, Mahan Air, continued to fly at least 55 times between Tehran and China, spreading the #WuhanVirus. At least five countries’ first cases of #COVID19 were a direct result of the Iranian regime’s disregard for everyone’s health.

.@SecPompeo March 23

FACT: The Iranian regime ignored repeated warnings from its own health officials, and denied its first death from the #WuhanVirus for at least nine days. The regime continues to lie to the Iranian people and the world about the number of cases and deaths.

.@SecPompeo March 20

Disinformation is not only coming from random actors around the world – but also from the Chinese Communist Party, Russia, and the Iranian regime. We must not permit these efforts to undermine our democracy, our freedom, and how we’re responding to the Wuhan Virus.

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