United States moves forward at full speed to ramp up pressure on Iran

22 May, 2018, 22:17 | Author: Felix Jensen
  • Britain's foreign secretary Boris Johnson German foreign minister Heiko Maas and French foreign minister Jean Yves Le Drian take part in meeting with Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Brussels Belgium

In a speech at the right-wing Heritage Foundation on Monday that critics said should put to rest all lingering illusions that the Trump White House wants anything other than regime change in Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outlined a "wildly unrealistic" list of demands that Iran must meet if it wants nuclear talks with America and warned that the US will "crush" Tehran with sanctions if it doesn't comply.

A senior Iranian official said Pompeo's remarks showed that the United States was pushing for "regime change", a charged phrase often associated with the USA invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the overthrow of President Saddam Hussein.

"Our demands on Iran are not unreasonable: Give up your program", Pompeo said, "Should they choose to go back, should they begin to enrich, we are fully prepared to respond to that as well", he said, declining to elaborate.

He warned that any entity conducting business with Tehran would be "held to account" by the United States, voicing hope that the new anti-Iranian sanctions will be met with support from U.S. allies beyond Europe.

Asked how the US will work with European nations to ease the impact of sanctions on their companies, Pompeo gave no ground.

"We will hold those doing prohibited business in Iran to account", he said.

"Who are you to decide for Iran and the world?" the Iranian president was quoted as saying.

Pompeo's list came just two weeks after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and promised to impose new tougher sanctions on Tehran.

United States sanctions lifted after the 2015 deal will be re-imposed, Mr Pompeo said, and those and new measures will together constitute "unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime". President Trump announced in early May the US would withdraw from the accord. Other nations have agreed that Iran has the right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. "The Iranian wave of destruction in the region in just the last few years is proof that Iran's nuclear aspirations can not be separated from the overall security picture", he added.

As he called for a better agreement to constrain Iran's activities, he said the USA would "apply unprecedented financial pressure" to bring Tehran back to the table.

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Pompeo vowed that Trump's approach would ensure "Iran has no possible path to a nuclear weapon, ever".

It was no accident that Pompeo, who served in the House of Representatives before Trump named him to head the Central Intelligence Agency a year ago, chose the fraught topic of Iran for his first policy speech.

German insurer Allianz and engineering conglomerate Siemens were among the first European entities which announced their intention to scale back business in Iran.

"When tariffs are increased, it's the citizens who foot the bill and, if goods become more expensive, jobs are jeopardised".

The speech was a fresh example of the Trump administration's maximalist with-us-or-against-us strategy that's also playing out over North Korea's nuclear program. He says the Trump administration prefers for it to be a treaty that is ratified by Congress.

"There is only one way to read it", said the former adviser to the State Department on Iran, "and that is that Trump administration has wedded itself to a regime-change strategy to Iran, one that is likely to alienate our allies".

As for the consequences, Pompeo was vague, saying only that Iran would be met with "steely resolve" if it continues on its current course.

And he also strongly hinted that the Iranian people ought to overthrow their leaders. Last week, the French energy company Total said it would be forced to end a multi-billion dollar project in Iran unless it receives a sanctions waiver by November.

The following week, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei broke with the regime's longstanding policy of denying the strength of the opposition and promoting an image of the Islamic Republic as a stable regime with an inevitable future, when he delivered a speech in which he credited the MEK with planning the protests for months.



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