The U.S. State Department is reportedly shelling out more than $2 million every month to fund a 24-hour security detail for former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his former aide, both of whom apparently face "serious and credible" threats from Iran.
The revelation, reported by the Associated Press, came in a "sensitive but unclassified" report on Saturday, wherein the agency admitted to spending $13.1 million on Pompeo and former Iran envoy Brian Hook between August 2021 and February 2022. The expenses appear to stem from Pompeo and Hook's role in former President Donald Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign, which involved the rollout of punitive sanctions against Iran after Trump withdrew from the Iran deal in 2018. Last month, Biden agreed to waive sanctions on Iran's civil nuclear projects, a move Iran's leadership has dismissed as "not enough" to resurrect the Iran deal.
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According to AP News, Pompeo was originally set to have 180 days of protection after leaving office. But according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the Trump official has faced "a serious and credible threat from a foreign power or agent of a foreign power arising" from his "duties … while employed by the department." As a result, the agency has incrementally extended Pompeo's security detail with 60-day provisions. Hook has been granted the same protections.
The provisions are set to expire by March 16, meaning that the agency will have to make another extension decision this week.
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Asked about Pompeo's security detail, a State Department spokesperson told The Hill that the agency does not "discuss the specifics of protective operations."
"Under the protective services provision, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence, determines and reports to Congressional leadership and the appropriate congressional committees if a former or retired senior State Department official would receive protection," they said.
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According to U.S. officials, the threats were discussed during February's Vienna talks, in which negotiators from Iran, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China attempted to renew a conversation around a nuclear agreement.
"It's better for Iran if there's an agreement in Vienna and sanctions are lifted today rather than tomorrow," said Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian in a news conference on Monday.
On Saturday, Politico reported that Russian demands have complicated the negotiations, with the country now demanding that it be exempt from EU and U.S. sanctions when trading with Iran. The talks have since been paused amid the new development.