Mike Pompeo Threatens to Impose the 'Strongest Sanctions in History' on Iran

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo in Washington on Monday

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo in Washington on Monday

The new demands, laid out by secretary of state Mike Pompeo, marked a fundamental departure from the 2015 Join Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which the U.S. exited earlier this month.

State Department officials say the aim of the speech is to outline a path forward after Trump announced he would withdraw the USA from the 2015 landmark nuclear deal with Iran and reimpose sanctions, a decision that immediately puts the United States in breach of its commitments.

Instead of suggesting a re-negotiation of the Iran deal, Pompeo outlined 12 tough conditions from Washington for any "new deal" with Tehran to make sure it "will never again have carte blanche to dominate the Middle East".

"We understand that our re-imposition of sanctions and the coming pressure campaign on the Iranian regime will pose financial and economic difficulties for a number of our friends", said the secretary of state.

"These will be the strongest sanctions in history by the time we are done", he added.

He warned that the U.S. would "crush" Iranian operatives and allies overseas and told Tehran to withdraw all forces under its command from the Syrian civil war where they back President Bashar al-Assad. "Iran, meanwhile, is working with partners for post-US JCPOA solutions", Iran's top diplomat tweeted. Tension between the two countries has grown notably since President Trump this month withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement aimed at preventing Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. If Iran complies, Pompeo said the Trump administration would support a treaty agreement (something Obama did not do) that would give Iran access to American markets and full diplomatic recognition.

"Secretary Pompeo's speech has not demonstrated how walking away from the JCPOA (nuclear deal) has made or will make the region safer from the threat of nuclear proliferation or how it puts us in a better position to influence Iran's conduct in areas outside the scope of JCPOA", Federica Mogherini said.

Pompeo's speech signaled a huge step back for the whole foreign policy of the US, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on his Twitter page. "At the end of the day, the Iranian people will get to make a choice about their leadership". Rouhani said in a statement carried by multiple Iranian news agencies.

Pompeo threatened to crush Iran with new sanctions. The demands ranged from ending military aid to Middle East militias and closing down its ballistic-missile program to permanently abandoning uranium enrichment and releasing all foreign detainees.

"This is just the beginning".

The secretary of state's remarks came weeks after Trump announced the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, an agreement struck in 2015 between Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany, that was meant to block the Iranian government's path to a nuclear weapon. The five other major powers have committed to adhering to the deal, with the European Union considering legislation that will nullify the effects of us sanctions on foreign companies that continue doing business with Iran.

"If they restart their nuclear program, they will have big problems, bigger problems than they've ever had before", he said.

The U.S. has already re-imposed sanctions lifted under the Iran deal, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and imposed new sanctions on Iran's Central Bank and other entities funneling money to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force as well as Hezbollah. "Next year marks the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Republic, the revolution in Iran", he said.

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