US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Washington will increase the financial pressure on Iran by imposing the “strongest sanctions in history” on the Islamic Republic if Tehran refuses to change the course of its foreign and domestic policy.
“We will apply unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime. The leaders in Tehran will have no doubt about our seriousness,” Pompeo said on Monday in his first major foreign policy address since moving to the State Department from the CIA.
Speaking weeks after the United States’ move to withdraw from a landmark nuclear agreement Iran signed with major powers in 2015, he laid out 12 tough conditions for any “new deal” with Tehran. The conditions included withdrawal of Iran’s military advisors from Syria, who have been helping the country’s legitimate government in its anti-terror fight against terrorist outfits, which have been mostly aided and abetted by the US and its Western and regional allies.
He said Washington would be open to a new treaty and wanted the support of America’s allies.
Iran has said it would remain in the JCPOA for now, pending negotiations with the other signatories in the coming weeks before making a final decision on its future role in the agreement. Tehran wants the Europeans to give it clear-cut guarantees about fulfilling their obligations if it remains in the accord.
In a press release on Friday, the European Commission said it took steps to preserve the interests of European companies investing in Iran and demonstrate the EU’s commitment to the JCPOA.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday the European Union’s “political support” for the multilateral nuclear agreement is not enough, urging the bloc to take more practical steps to boost economic cooperation with Iran.
“With the US exiting the JCPOA, public opinion’s expectations from the European Union have increased to save the JCPOA’s achievements,” Zarif said in a meeting with the European Commissioner for Energy and Climate Miguel Arias Cañete.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Pompeo expressed Washington’s readiness to respond if Tehran decided to resume its nuclear program.
“Our demands on Iran are not unreasonable: give up your program. Should they choose to go back, should they begin to enrich, we are fully prepared to respond to that as well,” the US secretary of state said without giving any detail about the possible response, hoping that Iran would “make a different decision, choose a different path.”
Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi said late in April that the country had enough technical know-how to return to conditions it had before signing the JCPOA.
“In terms of nuclear science, Iran has reached a level that if we fail to fulfill those promises that we gave to people upon signing the JCPOA, we will return to the past [conditions] and [even] a much better level [of the nuclear activities],” Salehi added.