In a closed-door meeting with 15 Iranian-American community leaders at the Renaissance Dallas Hotel last Monday, Pompeo said the Trump administration is “not going to do a military exercise inside Iran”, the news portal Axios reported, citing three sources that were in the room, including one who took detailed contemporaneous notes.
During the meeting, Pompeo reportedly was asked, “If regime change does not occur internally what is the endgame?” the US Secretary of State responded that the administration is “careful not to use the language of regime change” and has no plans to intervene in Iran with military forces.
When asked if the administration had considered the possibility of a coup, Pompeo quipped that he would not tell the attendees even if they had, prompting laughter in the room, according to the article.
Pompeo also used euphemisms to describe the administration’s position on Iran, saying that the administration’s best interest is “a non-revolutionary set of leaders leading Iran”. He also added that the Trump administration would have handled the 2009 “Green Movement”, in which disputes over the legitimacy of the Iranian presidential election led to mass protests, differently from the Obama administration, but he did not detail how, according to Axios.
“[There is] no such thing as a moderate inside the Iranian regime anywhere today”, he said, adding that there are also “no guarantees” that the Trump administration’s tough new sanctions wouldn’t hurt the people of Iran, according to the notes.
He also admitted that John Bolton and Rudy Giuliani had spoken at a rally of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), which had been designated a terrorist organisation by the US until 2012, but added that “President Trump and I have not”.
Tensions between the Trump administration and Iran have ramped up since Washington pulled out from the Iranian nuclear deal last year and reinstated sanctions against Tehran, including secondary sanctions against companies and financial institutions of countries that do business with the Islamic Republic or export its oil.