“It is part of the nature of the ayatollah to lie to the world,” Mr. Pompeo said.
Sidestepping the chronology of American actions and Iranian responses, Mr. Pompeo asserted that what Iran is doing “isn’t because of the American sanctions.”
“This is because the theocracy, the leadership in Iran, their revolutionary zeal to conduct terror around the world for now four decades continues,” he said.
In contrast to more conciliatory statements occasionally made by Mr. Trump himself, Mr. Pompeo appeared to leave little room for negotiations with the current Iranian leadership. “I am ultimately convinced,” he said, “that the Iranian people will get the leadership behavior that they so richly deserve.”
Mr. Pompeo also disclaimed any American responsibility for the captured British tanker. “The responsibility in the first instance falls to the United Kingdom to take care of their ships,” he said.
In a new conference to announce the arrest of the 17 unnamed spies, an Iranian counterterrorism official said they had been recruited and trained by the C.I.A.
A running battle to root out American spies is a staple of the news media in Iran, and its English-language Press TV recently broadcast a documentary about what it called a successful “mole hunt” for C.I.A. agents.
The Iranian intelligence minister, Mahmoud Alavi, claimed in the documentary that the spy hunt had resulted in the C.I.A. “crumbling like a house of cards,” according to a report by the BBC monitoring service.
Even as Tensions With Iran Rise Over Seized Ship, U.K. Stays ‘Committed’ to Nuclear Deal – The New York Times