U.S. to impose 'strongest sanctions in history' on Iran


German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Monday he will travel to Washington to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss Washington's stance on an worldwide nuclear deal with Iran.

In his first major foreign policy address as US Secretary of State, Pompeo listed a dozen demands, an agenda encompassing Iran's foreign ventures as well as its nuclear and missile programmes. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo outlined some new thinking this morning.

"This sting of sanctions will be painful if the regime does not change its course", Pompeo promised.

The hardline approach to Iran has drawn criticism from the regime's supporters, who claim the United States is seeking "regime change", a phrase often used in making comparisons to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Rouhani told Iranian state media. "Countries have their independence", he added.

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.

China and India, as well as the European Union, have clearly indicated they had no intention of changing their buying habits regarding Iranian crude, with the European Union specifically signaling it would make an effort to uphold the Iran nuclear deal and shield companies doing business in the country from USA sanctions.

"We call on the entire global community to join this American position", Netanyahu said on Monday.

Affecting that much change in Iran's behavior may be an uphill battle for the Trump administration, given the lack of support for this new deal from European allies.

Mr Pompeo also said the U.S. would work with allies to counter Iran in the cyberspace, despite announcing that it will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The U.S. government will "ensure freedom of navigation of the waters in the region", Pompeo said, without specifically mentioning the Strait of Hormuz, where the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps has menaced U.S. warships in recent years.

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

Bruno Le Maire and Christine Lagarde
GETTYBruno Le Maire and Christine Lagarde Talking trade

It's no coincidence that John Bolton, one of the George W. Bush administration's architects of that disaster, is now at the center of American policymaking as Mr. Trump's national security adviser.

"The era of such statements has evolved and the Iranian people have heard these statements hundreds of times, and no longer pays attention", he added.

Foreign policy scholars were quick to note how unrealistic Pompeo's demands were.

"The US policy is correct". The aim of a new deal with Iran would be to protect the United States people and to undermine the ability of Iran to pursue its current course of foreign policy, forcing Tehran to focus on the domestic affairs with the increased pressure of sanctions, according to Pompeo. "It aspires to achieve nuclear weapons by various means", Netanyahu said.

This then is the US "Plan B" for Iran - to step up the sanctions pressure, to force the Tehran government into a new diplomatic deal. Pompeo says the United States "will apply unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime".

"We want to hear their concerns".

"Is this what you want your country to be known for?"

The spat comes after several European companies expressed concern about continuing business with Iran following the U.S. exit, raising further doubts about the viability of the deal. The law would prevent European companies from complying with US sanctions.

The EU has been trying to persuade Iran to stay in the 2015 agreement, even without Washington´s participation. Russia, China and India are unlikely to bow to U.S. pressure. Federica Mogherini, the high representative of the European Union, explained that Europeans will remain committed to "full and effective implementation" of the JCPOA so long as Iran upholds its commitments.

The most controversial implication of Pompeo's speech is that the Administration would ultimately prefer regime change to re-engagement with the Islamic Republic.

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