WASHINGTON – The Trump administration will embark on an “unprecedented” pressure campaign against Iran meant to fundamentally change its foreign policy, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday.
Delivering his first major foreign policy address as top diplomat at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington think tank, Pompeo listed 12 sweeping and uncompromising conditions for a new nuclear deal with Tehran after President Donald Trump withdrew from the existing one earlier this month.
“The list is long” because Iran’s activities are bold in scope, the secretary said. “We didn’t create the list – they did.”
Among the demands are a complete end to Iran’s enrichment of uranium, currently allowed at a low level; a “full and public accounting” to the UN of its past experimentation and research on nuclear weapons technology (which Israel revealed through the publication of a trove of Iranian atomic files earlier this month, but which Iran has repeatedly denied); open-ended access for UN inspectors to all sites across Iran at any time, including its military facilities; and closure of its ballistic missile program, which is critical to the delivery of nuclear warheads but which Iran has claimed is defensive in nature.
Pompeo also included demands separate from Iran’s technical nuclear work, including the release of US prisoners held without charges or trial; an end to Iran’s support for Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad; and a full withdrawal of Iranian troops from Syria.
The list effectively demands a new Iranian government, although regime change was not among the explicit calls in Pompeo’s speech. The secretary claimed the administration is willing to negotiate with the existing regime if it demonstrates a “sustained shift” in its behavior. But he noted the upcoming 40th anniversary next year of the revolution that brought the Islamist government into power, and indicated he does not hold out hope for change at the top. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei “will not live forever,” Pompeo said.
“We will apply unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime.
The leaders in Tehran will have no doubt about our seriousness,” he added. “The sting of sanctions will be painful if the regime doesn’t change... these will indeed end up being the strongest sanctions in history when we are complete.”
Pompeo acknowledged that European partners currently bristling over Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 accord – formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – will have to “give up economic activity” with an Iran, faced with these new US sanctions.
The European Commission is attempting to implement “blocking statutes” that would protect EU businesses from the harshest secondary US sanctions. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel has already warned businesses not to have unrealistic expectations over their efficacy.
Major French and German corporations have already announced plans to draw down their operations in Iran.
“We cannot continue to create wealth for Qasem Soleimani,” Pompeo said, referring to the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force. “Everyone’s going to have to participate in this.”
The secretary said the administration hopes for an agreement with Iran that could garner enough support in Congress for passage of a formal treaty: two-thirds of the Senate. A bipartisan majority of both houses disapproved of the JCPOA in 2015, but the political agreement was able to stand as an executive plan of action.
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