On April 30, President Donald Trump cited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s revelations about Iran’s nuclear activities and ballistic missile program as proof that the nuclear deal is flawed. “I think if anything what’s happening today … and what we’ve learned [from Israel] has really shown that I’ve been 100 percent right,” said Trump during a press conference with Nigeria’s president. He said that withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal would send “the right message” to North Korea as he seeks to begin talks with Kim Jong Un. “You know in seven years that deal will have expired and Iran is free to go ahead and create nuclear weapons,” he added. The following is a transcript of his remark.
QUESTION: I want to ask you about Iran. The Israeli Prime Minister just gave a speech very critical of their nuclear program. I wanted to ask if you have made up your mind to pull out of that deal, and if you do pull out of that deal, are you worried that sends the wrong message to North Korea as you seek to enter nuclear talks with Kim Jong Un?
Trump: “No, I think it sends the right message. You know in seven years that deal will have expired and Iran is free to go ahead and create nuclear weapons. That’s not acceptable. Seven years is tomorrow. That’s not acceptable. So no, if anything it’s proven right. What Israel has done today with the news conference, and Prime Minister Netanyahu just gave a very – I don’t know if everybody got to see it but I got to see a little bit of it – and that just is not an acceptable situation. And I’ve been saying that it’s happening. They are not sitting back idly. They’re setting off missiles, which they say are for television purposes. I don’t think so. So we’ll see what happens. I’m not telling you what I’m doing, but a lot of people think they know. And on or before the 12th we’ll make a decision.
That doesn’t mean we won’t negotiate a real agreement. You know this is an agreement that wasn’t approved by too many people. And it’s a horrible agreement for the United States. Including the fact, Mr. President, that we gave Iran $150 billion and $1.8 billion in cash. Nigeria would like some of that. $1.8 billion in cash and $150 billion. You know what we got? We got nothing. We got nothing. So that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t negotiate a new agreement. We’ll see what happens. But I think if anything what’s happening today and what’s happened over the last little while and what we’ve learned has really shown that I’ve been 100 percent right.”
The White House
The United States is aware of the information just released by Israel and continues to examine it carefully. This information provides new and compelling details about Iran’s efforts to develop missile-deliverable nuclear weapons. These facts are consistent with what the United States has long known: Iran had a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it has tried and failed to hide from the world and from its own people. The Iranian regime has shown it will use destructive weapons against its neighbors and others. Iran must never have nuclear weapons.
― April 30, 2018, in a statement
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
For many years, the Iranian regime has insisted to the world that its nuclear program was peaceful. The documents obtained by Israel from inside of Iran show beyond any doubt that the Iranian regime was not telling the truth. I have personally reviewed many of the Iranian files. Our nonproliferation and intelligence officials have been analyzing tens of thousands of pages and translating them from Farsi. This analytical work will continue for many months. We assess that the documents we have reviewed are authentic.
The documents show that Iran had a secret nuclear weapons program for years. Iran sought to develop nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems. Iran hid a vast atomic archive from the world and from the IAEA — until today.
Among the flaws of the Iran nuclear deal was the whitewashing of Iran’s illicit activities related to its military nuclear program. Iran had many opportunities over the years to turn over its files to international inspectors from the IAEA and admit its nuclear weapons work. Instead, they lied to the IAEA repeatedly. They also lied about their program to the six nations who negotiated the Iran nuclear deal. What this means is the deal was not constructed on a foundation of good faith or transparency. It was built on Iran’s lies. Iran’s nuclear deception is inconsistent with Iran’s pledge in the nuclear deal “that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop, or acquire any nuclear weapons.”
We are therefore assessing what the discovery of Iran’s secret nuclear files means for the future of the JCPOA. Allowing restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program to sunset was a mistake. One has to ask: Why exactly was Iran hiding half a ton of nuclear weaponization files while implementing the Iran deal? It is worth recalling that from 2006-2015, Iran was prohibited by Security Council resolutions from enriching any nuclear material. Now that the world knows Iran has lied and is still lying, it is time to revisit the question of whether Iran can be trusted to enrich or control any nuclear material. As the President’s May 12 deadline to fix the Iran deal approaches, I will be consulting with our European allies and other nations on the best way forward in light of what we now know about Iran’s past pursuit of nuclear weapons and its systematic deception of the world.
― April 30, 2018, in a statement
SECRETARY POMPEO: Everybody ready to get home?
QUESTION: Very much so.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, me too. Well, look, you all had a chance to see what the prime minister said today. You’ve seen the statement that I’ve released with some of the President – what was said in our response to the question at the joint press conference he held. I’m happy to ask any – answer any questions to clarify anything about this new material that the prime minister released today.
QUESTION: How long have you known about that?
QUESTION: Did you go over it when you were with him in their meeting? I mean, how much of the meeting was that?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So we have – we’ve known about this material for a while. And yes, we certainly discussed the material yesterday when we were together.
QUESTION: Thank you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: But it’s been something that’s been in the works for a while. I know there are people talking about these documents not being authentic. I can confirm for you that these documents are real; they’re authentic.
QUESTION: Senator Corker says you’ve known about this for years.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, that’s partly true. The existence of the AMAD program that ended roughly December of 2003, January of 2004, it is accurate to say that the knowledge of that has been known for – the fact of that had been known for quite some time. But there are thousands of new documents and new information. We’re still going through it. There’s still a lot of work to do to figure out precisely the scope and scale of it. But it is the case – it – there is new information about that program.
QUESTION: Does it matter for the Iran nuclear deal, I mean, given that it looks like they abandoned the program some time ago?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, this is – this will, I think, spell out the scope and scale of the program that they undertook there, and I think makes – I think makes very clear that, at the very least, the Iranians have continued to lie to their own people. So while you say everyone knew, the Iranians have consistently taken the position that they’ve never had a program like this. This will – this will belie any notion that there wasn’t a program like this.
QUESTION: Is there anything in there that suggests there’s an actual violation of the 2016 agreement?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We’ll leave that to lawyers. I’ll leave that to lawyers to sort of make – and the President will ultimately have to make a determination about that too. You should remember there are still many, many documents that we’ve not had the opportunity to go through yet. It’s complex, a lot of translation work. There’s just a – it’s just a significant undertaking.
QUESTION: Does this suggest that the IAEA was wrong when it closed the book on the PMDs as part of the – part of the JCPOA?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I don’t know the answer to that.
QUESTION: Well, do these documents – are they contemporaneous with the negotiations that were going on or the (inaudible)?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We haven’t gone through all the documents yet. We’re still scratching the surface of what we’re going through.
QUESTION: Did the prime minister choose to release this now in order to influence the President’s decision or to support it?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I don’t know. I don’t know why they chose that timing.
QUESTION: It sounds like you have not drawn any conclusions on it yet.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, yes and no. I mean, it depends what you mean. Yes, we’ve drawn conclusions. We know more about the AMAD program than we knew before, and we have a whole lot more material to go through. We now know that they continued to store this material in an orderly fashion for some purpose – right? They kept the documents for a reason, and one can speculate as to why. If you said you were never – right? – the JCPOA says you’ll never, ever have a nuclear weapons program – right? Or maybe not with a not a never ever. You won’t ever have a nuclear weapons program. But you chose to store in secret and hide these documents?
QUESTION: Historical record? You’re not willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that they don’t want to destroy their history or --
SECRETARY POMPEO: The world can decide if this was for the Iranian museum that they – that they decided to hang onto it. (Laugher.)
QUESTION: How much have you guys (inaudible)?
QUESTION: Secretary, what happens now? Do you (inaudible) urgent meeting of the E3? What happens now?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So the Israelis will now, I think – I think the prime minister said publicly they are going to go provide expert briefings to the Germans and the French (inaudible). They’ll do the same thing for the Brits as well, and I think he indicated he was going to do it for the other members of the P5 also. And I think that’s important. I don’t think the Israelis – the Israelis haven’t asked us to take their word for it; they provided us the material to review. I am confident they will do the same for the other partners of the P5.
QUESTION: If you --
MODERATOR: Okay, guys. The Secretary has to go.
QUESTION: How much will it damage European relations? I mean, they obviously want to stay very much in the deal. If you pull out, are you afraid that relations with Europe will be damaged?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I’d say two things. One, we’re working diligently to fix this thing. I mean, on the plane we’ve been working to try and get language right that will address President Trump’s concerns. So we’re still working our way there.
And then a second thing I’d say is we’ve had lots of conversations with the Europeans. We know what it is they’re hoping to achieve. We share the same end goal to keep the Iranians from ever having a nuclear weapon. I am confident that we will continue to have good relations with our European partners should the President choose to pull out of this. This will be one issue among many of the important, critical issues that we all work on together.
― April 30, 2018, in remarks
Click here for information about Prime Minister Netanyahu's revelations about Iran's nuclear program.
Click here for Iranian reactions to Netanyahu's claims.
Click here for Europe's response to Israeli allegations.
Click here for the IAEA's statement and report about Iran's nuclear activities.
Click here for responses from experts and former officials.