U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had strong words for the Iranian government during a speech on Sunday.
While speaking at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library in Simi Valley, California, to a predominantly Iranian-American crowd, he compared the actions of the Iranian government to a “mafia,” according to Reuters.
“The level of corruption and wealth among Iranian leaders shows that Iran is run by something that resembles the mafia more than a government,” Pompeo said.
He criticized Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif for their role in negotiating the nuclear deal. “The truth is they are merely polished front men for the ayatollahs’ international con artistry. Their nuclear deal didn’t make them moderates; it made them wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
“These so-called moderates within the regime are still violent Islamic revolutionaries with an anti-America, anti-West agenda … the evidence reveals that their agenda is a anti-Iran agenda, as well,” he added.
The 2015 nuclear agreement was reached between Iran and the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, France and Germany. The deal mandated that Iran limit its nuclear capabilities to prevent the development of nuclear weapons, and required ongoing monitoring to ensure compliance.
Although Iran insisted its nuclear development is for electricity and non-weapons projects, it has more than doubled its uranium stockpile since the 2015 deal. It has also continued to sponsor terrorism.
“During the time of the nuclear deal, Iran’s increased oil revenues could have gone to improving the lives of the Iranian people. Instead they went to terrorists, dictators and proxy militias,” Pompeo pointed out.
“Today, thanks to regime subsidies, the average Hezbollah combatant makes two to three times what an Iranian firefighter makes on the streets of Iran. Regime mismanagement has led to the rial plummeting in value. A third of Iranian youth are unemployed, and a third of Iranians now live below the poverty line,” he added.
Pompeo also criticized Iranian leaders for embezzlement, and other deals and gains made for personal benefit at the expense of the Iranian people.
“The ayatollahs are in on the act, too. Judging by their vast wealth, they seem more concerned with riches than religion. These hypocritical holy men have devised all kinds of crooked schemes to become some of the wealthiest men on Earth while their people suffer,” he said.
Pompeo’s speech was one of the Trump Administration’s numerous communications moves designed to pressure Iran to end its nuclear efforts and terrorism sponsorship, in conjunction with increasing economic sanctions.
Pompeo said the administration’s goal is to work with countries to reduce the importation of Iranian oil, and “get imports as close to zero as possible by Nov. 4. Zero.”