Mike Pompeo Says Iranian 'Rapid Nuclear Breakout' Is Possible Amid Rising Tensions

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday warned of a possible "rapid nuclear breakout" in Iran amid growing tensions between the Middle Eastern nation and the rest of the world, according to a report from Axios.

In a statement published to the U.S. Department of State website Thursday morning, the secretary of state said that Iran was attempting to "extort" the rest of the world to accept its "violence and terror" and said that it was attempting to undermine the sovereignty of neighboring countries. He implored the international community to imagine how Iran would act should it have access to a nuclear weapon, which he said the United States would not allow.

"Iran's expansion of proliferation-sensitive activities raises concerns that Iran is positioning itself to have the option of a rapid nuclear breakout," Pompeo said. "It is now time for all nations to reject this regime's nuclear extortion and take serious steps to increase pressure. Iran's continued and numerous nuclear provocations demand such action."

According to the Axios report, since President Trump last year pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal, which was negotiated under former President Obama in 2015, Iran has reportedly scaled back its own commitment to the deal. The president has instead used a pressure campaign to attempt to prevent the Middle Eastern nation from developing nuclear weapons.

As Axios reported, Pompeo's statement comes following the September attack on Saudi oil facilities, which included attacks at an oil processing facility in Abqaiq and at an oil field in Khurais the day prior. While Iran has denied involvement in those drone attacks, Pompeo has claimed the U.S. has evidence to suggest the nation was behind the bombings. The statement also comes amid Iranian rejection of European leaders' requests to get Iran to negotiate a new nuclear deal with the U.S.

This handout image supplied by the IIPA (Iran International Photo Agency) shows a view of the reactor building at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant as the first fuel is loaded, on August 21, 2010 in Bushehr, southern Iran.
Getty Images) | IIPA

On Wednesday, Iran reportedly renewed uranium enrichment at 1,000 centrifuges located in a fortified nuclear facility in Fordow, Axios said. Per the previous deal with the U.S., Iran had agreed to halt all uranium enrichment and turn the Fordow facility into a physics research center.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Thursday reportedly held an emergency meeting to discuss a reported nuclear site near Tehran, Iran's capital city. Per Axios, the facility was reportedly unveiled in 2018 by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Iranians have said the facility was a rug-cleaning site, though traces of nuclear material were reportedly detected at the warehouse.

Iranians are reportedly not cooperating with UN officials, Axios reported.