US vows 'strongest sanctions in history' on Iran

Virginia Santiago
May 22, 2018

Fulminating against the landmark worldwide agreement brokered under the Obama administration, Pompeo said US President Donald Trump was "willing, ready and able" to negotiate a new deal, but not inside the context of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the deal is formally known.

In his first major address as secretary of state, Pompeo outlined a new strategy that overturns three key assumptions that underpinned the Iran policy of Obama and his top diplomat, John Kerry. That is their decision to make.

The Treasury Department already has reimposed sanctions on the head of Iran's Central Bank and other companies and groups, and Pompeo warned, "The Iranian regime should know that this is just the beginning". "Are these two not responsible for wasting Iranian lives throughout the Middle East?" According to him, they will be the "strongest in history".

Political analyst Jamal Abdi said the United States knew that Iran could never agree with such demands.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

The Administration did hold out the option of full diplomatic and commercial reconciliation with the Islamic Republic-if it agreed to all twelve demands for "tangible, demonstrated, and sustained shifts" in policies.

Other demands the Iranians are unlikely to go along with include stopping uranium enrichment and ballistic missile tests, and allowing worldwide inspectors access to all sites, including military locations where critics suspect clandestine research. Instead we got bluster and a wish list unattached to a coherent strategy for attaining our goal.

But the tenor of the speech challenged the revolutionary regime itself as it approaches its fortieth anniversary, next February.

The fact is, Trump kept pushing Iran to exhibit peaceful intent, it did not and we are therefore in a situation where its continuing evil is more a real peril even if unseen by those who do not want to see.

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"This will only lead to one thing: confrontation", he said. Pompeo said the United States stands "in total solidarity" with the regime's "longest-suffering victims: its own people".

Iran claim its nuclear work has medical uses and will produce energy to meet domestic demand and complement its oil reserves. Iran has been lobbying for the European Union to make direct deposits into Iran's Central Bank to pay for Iranian oil, Cañete said.

"Countries are independent. We will continue our path with the support of our nation", Rouhani said.

"We focus on the Europeans, but there are scores of countries around the world who share our concerns and are equally threatened by the Iranian regime. But today, a government is in office in the United States that returned their country fifteen years back overnight and is repeating the same words of 2003 and 2004", he said.

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The deal was also signed by Britain, China, France, Germany and Russian Federation.

Some European corporations, like the French automotive manufacturer Peugeot, have, in fact, suggested withdrawing from the deal, citing concerns about obtaining USA sanctions waivers. He didn't specify how he would convince the European allies to go along with the USA plan.

The speech was both cheered and jeered in the Washington foreign-policy community.

"He will not live forever, nor will the Iranian people abide the rigid rule of tyrants forever", Pompeo said. "But Iran hid the archive, moved it from place to place". Rather, he demanded Iran's complete capitulation on 12 points. "What Trump did will actually make it harder to achieve". Iran has denied ever wanting to build nuclear arms.

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Others called the new strategy an imaginative blend of maximum pressure and maximum diplomacy.

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