Will Racke, DCNF
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid out a long list of demands on Monday that he said the Iranian government has to meet if it wants to avoid harsh economic penalties from Washington.
In his first policy speech as the nation’s top diplomat, Pompeo called called for a replacement to the Iran nuclear deal that will ensure the Islamic Republic “has no possible path to a nuclear weapon, ever.”
To bring about a better deal, Washington will seek to build a coalition of regional allies to bring additional pressure on Iran, Pompeo said. In the meantime, he added, Tehran would have to meet 12 demands before Washington would consider granting any sanctions relief.
“These will end up being the strongest sanctions in history by the time we are complete,” Pompeo said at the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Pompeo’s speech comes two weeks after President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal, which was negotiated in 2015 by the Obama administration, Tehran, and several world powers. One of several Iran hawks on Trump’s senior foreign policy team, Pompeo had been pushing for the U.S. to withdraw from the deal and negotiate a broader agreement that also addressed Tehran’s non-nuclear activity, including ballistic missile testing and support for proxy forces in the Middle East.
Many of those activities factored into the demands Pompeo outlined at Heritage on Monday. He said Iran must withdraw support for Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen, “withdraw all forces” from Syria, and stop threatening Israel by supporting the militant group Hezbollah. Tehran must also “release all U.S. citizens” being held on “spurious charges,” Pompeo added.
Some of Pompeo’s demands are unlikely to be met because the Iranian regime already considers them to be covered under the existing nuclear deal. He said Iran must stop all enrichment of uranium, which the nuclear accord permitted under strict limits.
Iran must also allow nuclear inspectors to have “unqualified access to all sites throughout the country,” Pompeo said, referring to a provision of the deal that exempts certain military installations from inspections except under specific circumstances. Additionally, he demanded that Iran reveal all of its past efforts to build a nuclear weapon, even through the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency has already deemed the matter settled.
In the meantime, new U.S. sanctions on Iran, which could also apply to foreign firms doing business there, will cripple its economy and bring Tehran to the negotiating table once again, Pompeo said.
“After our sanctions come into full force, it will be battling to keep its economy alive,” he said. “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.”
One potential pitfall for Washington is angering European allies by applying secondary sanctions on overseas firms that continue to do business in Iran. Pompeo conceded that Washington’s Iran policy “will pose financial and economic difficulties for a number of our friends,” referring to countries such as Britain, France and Germany, which have built extensive trading ties with Iran since the nuclear deal was enacted.
Even so, Washington will not hesitate to sanction European firms that violate U.S. sanctions, Pompeo said.
“That is their decision to make,” Pompeo said. “They know where we stand.”
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