National Security

Pompeo Slams Kerry for Meeting With Iranian Officials to Salvage Nuke Deal: ‘It Is Beyond Inappropriate’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday castigated one of his predecessors, John Kerry, for meeting privately with Iranian officials to salvage the Iran nuclear deal.

"What Secretary Kerry did was unseemly and unprecedented," Pompeo told reporters at the State Department. "This is a former secretary of state engaged with the world's largest state sponsor of terror, and according to him—you don't have to take my word for it, these are his answers—he was talking to them. He was telling them to wait out this [Trump] administration."

"You can't find precedent for this in U.S. history, and Secretary Kerry ought not to engage in that kind of behavior," Pompeo continued. "It's inconsistent with what the foreign policy of the United States is as directed by this president, and it is beyond inappropriate for him to be engaged in this."

Kerry, who ran the State Department in the Obama administration, discussed his interactions with Iran while promoting his new book, Every Day Is Extra, this week. He acknowledged meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif "three or four times" in recent months, without consulting the Trump administration.

Kerry said that he has conducted sensitive diplomacy on his own with Iran, discussing the nuclear deal, from which President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. earlier this year. He told radio host Hugh Hewitt that he has criticized the Trump administration in these discussions for not pursuing negotiations with Iran.

During an appearance on Fox News on Wednesday, Kerry did not deny the suggestion that he told Iranian officials to "wait out" the Trump administration.

"I think everybody in the world is talking about waiting out President Trump," Kerry said.

Trump blasted Kerry in a tweet, calling the meetings "illegal."

Pompeo added Friday that he saw Kerry at the Munich Security Conference earlier this year, and suggested the former secretary of state met with Iranian officials while there.

"He was there with—if I have my facts right, because I think I saw them all with my own eyes—Secretary Moniz and Wendy Sherman, the troika," Pompeo said. "And I am confident that they met with their troika counterparts."

Ernest Moniz served as secretary of energy under President Barack Obama, and Wendy Sherman, a former State Department official, was the lead U.S. negotiator during nuclear negotiations with Iran.

"I wasn't in the meeting, but I am reasonably confident that he was not there in support of U.S. policy with respect to the Islamic Republic of Iran, who this week fired Katyusha rockets toward the United States embassy in Baghdad and took action against our consulate in Basra," Pompeo continued.

Last week, Iranian-backed militias carried out "life-threatening attacks" against the U.S. consulate in Basra and the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, according to the White House.

"I think you understand what I wish it is that former secretaries of state—all of them, from either political party—ought not to be engaged in," Pompeo said. "Actively undermining U.S. policy as a former secretary of state is literally unheard of."

Kerry defended his meetings with Iranian officials during his Fox News appearance.

"Every secretary of state, former secretary of state, continues to meet with foreign leaders, goes to security conferences, goes around the world. We all do that. And we all have conversations [about] the state of affairs with the world in order to understand them," Kerry said.