Pompeo vows diplomatic approach to Iran nuke deal
WASHINGTON – Agence France-Presse
Mike Pompeo, the outgoing director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), disavowed his reputation as a “war hawk” and an anti-Muslim hardliner as he sought to woo support from senators on April 12 to become the next U.S. secretary of state.
He told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he would restore “swagger” to a State Department left in tatters by Rex Tillerson, and strengthen relations with U.S. partners left ragged after the tumultuous first year of President Donald Trump’s administration.
Pompeo emphasized his close relationship with Trump -- something Tillerson never had -- and his time at the CIA, which he said had given him a strong appreciation for the necessity to work closely with foreign partners. In his CIA post, Pompeo has already taken the lead in arranging a potentially breakthrough summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un on denuclearization.
The Trump administration also faces crucial decisions on how to react to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, more sanctions on Russia, and a deadline to confirm the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
With a history of provocative statements against Iran, Pompeo’s nomination was seen as a sign that Trump’s administration intends to rip up the accord. But on April 12, he strove to emphasize that he would work to “fix” the deal with skeptical European allies by a May 12 deadline.
Both France’s President Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel are due to visit Washington on separate official visits before May 12, in part to lobby Trump to preserve a deal they see as the best way to stop Tehran getting a nuclear bomb.
Pompeo confirmed that as CIA director, he had seen no evidence that Iran had broken its side of the bargain, and believes that Tehran would not be able to quickly develop nuclear weapons should the agreement fail.
“I’ve seen no evidence that they are not in compliance today,” he told the committee.
“I want to fix this deal. That’s the objective. If there is no chance to fix it, I’ll recommend to the president we do our level best to work with our allies to achieve a better outcome and better deal. Even after May 12th, even after May 12th, there’s still much diplomatic work to be done.”