Pompeo strikes parallels between North Korea and Iran during his first speech since becoming America’s top diplomat

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday drew parallels between the Iran nuclear deal and the one the U.S. hopes to craft with North Korea next month in Singapore.
  • Pompeo said the U.S. would impose the "strongest sanctions in history" on Iran for its malign activities.
  • A similar move may be likely if the U.S. does not strike a deal with North Korea.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo makes his first public address at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC on May 21, 2018.
Amanda Macias/CNBC
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo makes his first public address at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC on May 21, 2018.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo drew parallels Monday between the Iran nuclear deal and the one the U.S. hopes to craft with North Korea next month.

In his first public address since becoming America's top diplomat, Pompeo described the growing ballistic missile and nuclear weapons threats of rogue regimes like Tehran and Pyongyang.

He went on to defend President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and lauded the upcoming talks between the U.S. and North Korea in Singapore.

"Our willingness to meet with Kim Jong Un underscores the Trump administration's commitment to diplomacy and helps solve the greatest challenges even with our staunchest adversaries," Pompeo said during his opening remarks at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "That willingness has been accompanied by a painful pressure campaign and reflects our commitment to resolve this challenge forever."

Pompeo, who spoke for a little over half an hour before departing to assist in the swearing-in ceremony of his CIA successor, Gina Haspel, said the U.S. would impose the "strongest sanctions in history" on Iran for its malign activities.

"Thanks to our colleagues at the Department of Treasury, sanctions are going back in full effect and new ones are coming," he said. "The sting of sanctions will be painful if the regime does not change its course from the unacceptable and unproductive path it has chosen to one that rejoins the league of nations."

He implied that a similar move may be likely if the U.S. does not strike a deal with North Korea.

Some observers say Trump's decision to leave the agreement with Tehran could undermine nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang.

DJ Peterson, president of Longview Global Advisors, a geopolitical and economic risk advisory group to corporations, investors and political organizations, said the U.S. lost credibility by walking out on the Iran deal.

"[North Korea] doesn't necessarily distinguish between the Obama administration and the Trump administration; that was just a deal with America. That was a deal with the White House," he said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un guides a target-striking contest of the special operation forces of the Korean People's Army to occupy islands in Pyongyang on Aug. 25, 2017.
KCNA | Reuters
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un guides a target-striking contest of the special operation forces of the Korean People's Army to occupy islands in Pyongyang on Aug. 25, 2017.

Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, a senior defense fellow for Defense Priorities, echoed those sentiments, saying that scrapping one deal on nukes will impact the next deal the U.S. tries to make.

"It would be hard to even come up with a plausible reason why North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would be willing to negotiate in good faith and come up with a deal after this," Davis said.

As it stands, North Korea remains the only nation to test nuclear weapons this century.

Since 2011, Kim has fired more than 90 missiles and conducted four nuclear weapons tests, more than his father, Kim Jong Il, and grandfather, Kim Il Sung, launched over a period of 27 years.

The North's arsenal includes short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, intercontinental ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. The Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile is the most powerful rocket the North has tested to date.

The missile, also known as KN-22 by the U.S., is believed to have a range capable of hitting the entire continental United States, according to estimates from the Missile Defense Project.

Kim spent much of last year perfecting his arsenal by launching 24 missiles and carrying out North Korea's largest nuclear test.

WATCH: Pompeo returns from N. Korea with 3 released prisoners