Pompeo accuses Newsweek of 'helping' Iran 'spread lies'

Pompeo accuses Newsweek of 'helping' Iran 'spread lies'
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Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Trump, Dem leaders fight before cameras over border wall | GOP skeptical of having military build wall | US spars with Russia, Venezuela over bomber deployment Russia, Venezuela lash out after US criticisms of bomber deployment Our deep divide over nuclear disarmament MORE took aim at Newsweek on Monday over a magazine article that he said suggested that the U.S. was preparing to sanction food being imported into Iran.

In a tweet, Pompeo accused the magazine of "helping" Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif spread "lies" about the U.S. after Zarif tweeted a screenshot of the article and accused Pompeo of threatening to starve Iranians.

"Shame on #FakeNewsweek for helping @JZarif spread lies," Pompeo responded on Monday. "The truth is: the U.S. does not, and never did, sanction food and medicine. They are exempt from sanctions, as are financial transactions related to humanitarian needs."

The Newsweek article's headline, which suggested that Pompeo said Iranians would not eat if they did not follow U.S. wishes, quoted Pompeo in an interview with BBC Persia explaining that Iran's government must make decisions addressing the needs of Iran's people.

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“The leadership has to make a decision that they want their people to eat. They have to make a decision that they want to use their wealth to import medicine and not use their wealth to fund [Islamic extremism]," Pompeo said in the interview, according to Newsweek.

“That’s the Iranian government’s choice on how to use Iranian wealth. If they choose to squander, if the Iranian leadership chooses to spoil it, if they choose to use it in a way that doesn’t benefit the Iranian people. I’m very confident the Iranian people will take a response that tries to fix that themselves as well,” he added.

New York Times report on Sunday detailed medicine shortages in Iran amid reimposed U.S. sanctions on the government in Tehran that the Times reports "have made it nearly impossible for foreign pharmaceutical companies to continue working in the country."