Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shamed Newsweek magazine on Tuesday for a report claiming that the United States was sanctioning food and medicine in Iran.
Pompeo was referring to a Newsweek article with the headline, “Mike Pompeo Says Iran Must Listen To U.S. ‘If They Want Their People To Eat.’ Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, tweeted out the article and accused Pompeo of threatening to starve Iranians.
#WeWontForget @SecPompeo openly threatening to starve Iranians—a crime against humanity—in a desperate attempt to impose US whims on Iran. Like his predecessors, he’ll also learn that—in spite of US efforts—Iran will not just survive but advance w/out sacrificing its sovereignty. pic.twitter.com/GJiN7rI82Q
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) November 10, 2018
Newsweek’s headline is misleading when viewed in the full context of Pompeo’s statements, as he was encouraging the Iranian government to spend money on food and other supplies for its citizens rather than using its money to fund terror.
“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 [Iran’s Quds Force commander] Qasem Soleimani’s travels around the Middle East, with causing death and destruction,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo tweeted a complaint about the article’s framing, writing, “Shame on #FakeNewsweek for helping @JZarif spread lies. The truth is: the U.S. does not, and never did, sanction food and medicine.”
Shame on #FakeNewsweek for helping @JZarif spread lies. 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.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) November 12, 2018
A U.S. State Department spokesperson made the same clarification directly to Newsweek after the article was published, making clear that the United States does not place sanctions on “humanitarian trade, including food, medicine, medical devices, and agricultural commodities.”