U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blasted Iran’s ruling elite and its religious leaders for using their positons to “line their pockets” with riches while the average person "cries out for jobs, reform, and opportunity."
Pompeo on July 22 called Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other Islamic religious leaders in the theocratic government "hypocritical holy men" and pointed out officials who had amassed hundreds of millions of dollars of wealth from their positions.
He said the accumulation of wealth among leaders and the corruption of the “violent” government indicated that Iran is “something that resembles the mafia more than a government.”
He added that the “regime in Iran has been a nightmare for the Iranian people.”
Pompeo was delivering an address titled “Supporting Iranian Voices” at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute in Simi Valley, California.
There are an estimated 250,000 Iranian-Americans in Southern California.
The crowd appeared highly receptive to Pompeo’s comments, but his speech at one point was interrupted by a woman screaming and shouting in protest. It was not immediate clear what the nature of her protest was. The audience booed the woman, and the crowd began chanting, “USA. USA.”
Pompeo vowed that the United States would continue to support the “long-ignored voice of the Iranian people” and would continue to “spotlight the abuses” perpetrated against the country’s citizens by their government.
He said financial sanctions that the United States has reimposed since pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal would continue to target Iran’s banking and energy sector.
The goal, he said, is to work with U.S. partners and to bring their imports of Iranian oil to “zero” by November 4.
Speech in Full: