United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday warned Iran would be hit with the “strongest sanctions in history” and cautioned European firms against continuing to do business in Tehran, toughening up Washington’s policy line after its withdrawal from the nuclear pact.
In his first major foreign policy address since moving to the State Department from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the longtime Iran hawk and ardent opponent of the 2015 nuclear pact outlined an aggressive series of moves designed to counter Tehran, which he called the world’s top sponsor of terror.
“We will apply unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime. The leaders in Tehran will have no doubt about our seriousness,” Pompeo said in a speech at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank.
“This 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.”
Pompeo said if Iran were to abide by the stricter terms, including ending its ballistic missile program and its interventions in regional conflicts from Yemen to Syria, the United States would lift its new sanctions.
“Iran will be forced to make a choice: either fight to keep its economy off life support at home or keep squandering precious wealth on fights abroad. It will not have the resources to do both,” he said.
“Iran’s leaders saw the deal as a starting gun for the march across the Middle East,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo said the bet the deal would increase Middle East stability had been a bad one for America, Europe, the Middle East “and indeed for the entire world.”
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.”
These essentially address every aspect of Iran’s missile program and what the US calls its “malign influence” across the region, including support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Hezbollah and Huthi rebels in Yemen.