Pompeo: No Regime Change in Iran, But Regime Must 'Behave Like a Normal Nation'

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Voice of America Persian today that a goal of U.S. policy toward Iran after shunning the 2015 nuclear deal will be “to set conditions where Iran will behave like a normal nation.”

“Look, we’ve asked them to stop spreading terror around the world, not to build out militias in Iraq, not to put Iranian dollars and Iranian citizens, who are losing their lives in Syria — it’s inappropriate for Middle East security and it’s bad for the country,” he said.

“If we can create conditions where they’ll stop that, the Iranian people will have great success, and we will have Americans visiting there, and we’ll have all the great things that we do when there are friends and allies as opposed to folks who are presenting risk to our country,” he added.

Pompeo said that “with respect to the use of nuclear material in Iran, just as we have in Saudi Arabia, just as we did with the United Arab Emirates, we don’t believe it’s appropriate for Iran to have the capacity to create fissile material, to enrich uranium or have a plutonium facility.”

“If they want a peaceful nuclear energy program, fine, but they could import that material. And other countries do it; it works for many countries around the world. And in order for us to achieve that, to get comfortable that that’s the case, there will have to be inspections,” he said. “That would include inspections at military sites and research laboratories and all the places that had been participants in previous iterations of Iran’s program.”

On the subject of human rights, Pompeo said the U.S. can “certainly provide moral support” to Iranians risking their lives by participating in anti-regime protests.

“I think importantly, the Iranian people will make these decisions for themselves. These protests have been ongoing now for months and months — some of them very small, some of them larger,” he continued. “…It’s not about changing the regime. It’s about changing the behavior of the leadership in Iran to comport with what the Iranian people really want them to do.”

The U.S. will work with Iranian opposition groups, the secretary noted, “so long as they’re working toward the same thing — we don’t want them advocating for regime change, either.”

“We want them working on behalf of the Iranian people, ordinary Iranian citizens who want nothing more than to live their lives, to be able to take their hijab off, to be able to go to work and raise their families and worship in the way they want to worship,” he said. “This is for the Iranian people to do, and so if there are those on the outside who are working toward that goal, we certainly welcome it.”

As far as current American hostages in Iran, Pompeo said he hoped that Iranian leaders “all would see that it’s in their best interests to — and for nothing more than basic humanity — to allow these innocent Americans to return to their families.”

He said Iranian leaders have a responsibility to stop encouraging “Death to America” or “Death to Israel” chants at rallies.

“In America, people say all kinds of things. We have a wide-open democracy. There are people who like President Trump and who don’t. I find that just fine. I am untroubled by that,” Pompeo said.

“I think most Iranians look at what we’ve been able to accomplish here in America and how blessed we’ve been, and think that that’s a model that works in the sense of we’ll certainly adopt a different form of democracy, and we’ll have a different form of government, and we’ll have different values and beliefs across a certain set of things, we’ll have different religions, and that’s all fine,” he added. “But the basic common understanding of humanity, that you treat every human being with dignity and respect, that you don’t export violence around the world, that you don’t steal and plunder from your people, those core values that are civilizational, they’re historical — I think the Iranian people share those in the same way that the American people do.”

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