‘We’re working toward’ avoiding war with Iran: Pompeo

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is interviewed on “This Week” Sunday, amid rising tensions with Iran.
10:18 | 09/22/19

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Transcript for ‘We’re working toward’ avoiding war with Iran: Pompeo
We begin with the rising tensions between Iran and the U.S. The administration is pointing the finger at Iran holding it responsible for the attack on Saudi oil facilities last week, the secretary of state calling it an act of war. President trump's response has run the gamut saying the U.S. Was locked and loaded Sunday. Then swinging to talk to a peaceful resolution on Thursday. Here's what he said Friday in the oval office. I think it shows far more strength to do it the way we're doing it, whether it's now or three weeks. Doesn't make any difference. The strong person's approach and the thing that does show strength would be showing a little bit of restraint. So far the only concrete steps trump has taken are to impose more sanctions and deploy a modest number of troops and air defense systems to Saudi Arabia. Where do we go from here? Do trump's varied responses keep Iran guessing or invite further escalation from Iran? Let's bring in secretary of state Mike Pompeo. Welcome back to "This week." Martha, great to be with you. Thank you. Mr. Secretary, the Pentagon announced Friday in response to attacks on the Saudi oil facilities, the U.S. Will be sending more air defense to Saudi. The president also announcing more sanctions. What kind of message does that send to Iran, a nation you say conducted an act of war? Martha, we have 40 years of terror from this nation. They conducted an attack on oil fields, one of the largest attacks on the global energy supply in history. President trump's strategy that we laid out two years ago is working. We are well on our way to forcing the Iranian regime to ultimately make the decision to become a normal nation. That's all we ever asked. The president made a couple decisions on Friday. We tightened sanctions on the regime. That put the revolutionary regime in a difficult position. The Iranian people applaud that. They understand that their leaders are taking them in a direction not good for their country. We then announced we're going to move some additional forces. The secretary of defense talked about that Thursday. Each of those is aimed as deterrents. We want a peaceful resolution. That's our objective. We have hope the work we've done to keep the straights open and the additional defense systems and capabilities we put in the region will achieve that. Mr. Secretary, the Saudis have over one dozen patriot missile batteries, yet the cruise missiles got through. What does sending more air defense over there do? It will improve. It's about value and density. Martha, you know this story well. It will improve the capabilities for them. We're going to strengthen all the capabilities there. It will make it more difficult -- I'm glad you acknowledge this was an Iranian attack with land attack cruise missiles. It was an agent of war by a state. I'm here in New York. We'll be at the U.N. Talking about it. We hope the united nations will take a strong position. It was designed for this specific thing. I know the Iranian people want a peaceful resolution and an Iranian regime not engaged in terror and mayhem. You say the plan is working. The stated purpose of the maximum pressure campaign is to reduce Iran's maligned activity and prevent them from getting nuclear weapons through tough economic sanctions. Let me just go through this. Since you pulled out of the nuclear deal there have been attacks on oil tankers, shooting down a sophisticated drone, that cost more than $100 million, the attack on the Saudi oil fields, we closed the consulate and reduced our diplomatic core by 50% and Iran is breaking the jcpoa limits on enrichment and storage. Isn't this campaign having the opposite effect you hoped for? Martha, some of the facts you have there aren't right. You started the clock at the wrong moment. We took over when the previous administration handed this regime this revolutionary zealous regime, $150 billion. They created the wealth and resources for them to do that. You said some of the facts were wrong. What's -- Martha, it's important your viewers understand during the jcpoa ,not after president trump made the correct decision to withdraw, but during the jcpoa there were dozens of missile attacks into Saudi Arabia by Iran. There were assassination campaigns conducted in Europe. I'm aware of that Mr. Secretary. Since you pulled out of the jcpoa you're disputing the fact that they bombed an oil field, or that the consulate was closed? No, ma'am. Clearly they bombed that oil field. We're working to extinguish their capability. We've seen it. We've seen Hezbollah struggle with resources. We watched internal decision making over whether they should arm their armed forces. They're having to -- remember, Martha, we only had these tough sanctions on since may. We're at the start of the sanctions campaign, not the middle or end. The Iranian economy will shrink by somewhere on the order of 10% to 15% this year. The regime knows their people won't stand for this. The Iranian people understand bringing back dead Iranians from Syria and Iraq is not going to sit well with the Iranian people. That's who we support. That's our mission. Secretary Pompeo, president trump has had some very strong words, very strong tweets about Iran. Let's go to one of them. To the president never, ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before. We are no longer a country that will stand for your demented words of violence. Be cautious. That was a year before Iran shot down the $130 million drone. The consequences of that were that the U.S. Launched a cyber attack and placed sanctions. Senator Lindsey graham said he believes Iran saw this as a sign of weakness by the U.S. Why do you think the economic sanctions is sufficient to deter Iran in the future? President trump and I both want to give diplomacy every opportunity to succeed. I think the whole world knows, when that fails, when it's the case we no longer believe that we convinced the Iranian regime to behave in a way -- behave like a normal nation, I think the whole world knows, including Iranian regime, of American military might. Are you confident we can avoid war? Iran doesn't seem confident. We think so. We talked about -- remember Iran began as an anti-semitic, anti-american nation. We're taking this on in a serious way. We're working diligently to see that it has a diplomatic outcome. If we're unsuccessful and if Iran continues to strike out in this way, president trump will make the decisions necessary to achieve our objectives. I want to turn to the whistleblower complaint, Mr. Secretary, the complaint about a phone call to a foreign leader. The inspector general, that's where the complaint was launched. It's alleged president trump pressed the president of Ukraine eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani to investigate Joe Biden's son. What do you know about those conversations? You just gave me a report about a -- a whistleblower complaint, none of which I've seen. I can tell you about this administration's policies with Ukraine. The previous administration was begged by the Ukrainian people to deliver defensive arms so they could protect themselves from Vladimir Putin and Russia and they gave them blankets. This administration took seriously the responsibility to help the Ukrainians defend themselves. We worked on that. We want a good relationship with Ukraine. Let me read something. Let me ask you something. The Ukrainian's said they discussed investigation of cases which inhibited the interaction between Ukraine and the U.S.A. The president tweeted it was a perfectly fine and respectful conversation. Do you think it's, quote, perfectly fine to ask a leader to investigate a political opponent? I saw a statement from the Ukrainian foreign minister said there was no pressure applied in the conversation. I do think if vice president Biden behaved inappropriately, if he was protecting his son and intervened in a way that was corrupt, I think we need to get to the bottom of it. I hope that we will. I hope if vice president Biden engaged in behavior inappropriate -- We've seen no evidence of that. American cannot -- I want to go back to the question. America cannot have our elections interfered with. If there was that kind of activity engaged in by vice president Biden, we need to know. There's no evidence of that. If the conversation was perfectly fine as president trump said, why not release the transcript to the public? The white house will have to answer that. We don't release transcripts. It's a rare case. Those are private conversations between world leaders. It wouldn't be appropriate to do so except under the most extreme circumstances. There's no evidence that would be appropriate. Thanks so much for joining us this morning, secretary Pompeo. Thank you, Martha. When we come back James

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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