Mike Pompeo offered both a clenched fist and an open hand to Iran in his first major policy speech. At the Heritage Foundation this morning, the new Secretary of State pledged never to “repeat the mistakes of past administrations” and rejected entirely the effort to “renegotiate the JCPOA,” the executive agreement created by the Obama administration. Instead, Pompeo offered to open full diplomatic and economic ties with Tehran, but only if they comply with twelve “basic requirements” for non-proliferation and the end of state-sponsored terrorism:
If Iran agrees to US "requirements," Pompeo says US prepared to end all principal components of its sanctions; re-establish full diplomatic and trade relations; and assist in modernization of Iran's economy. pic.twitter.com/R0zMBARAb1
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) May 21, 2018
Otherwise, Iran will face a much tougher sanctions regime — and presumably, so would anyone else doing business with them:
Sec. of State Pompeo vows to hit Iran with “strongest sanctions in history” if its government does not change course. pic.twitter.com/y2k4q1BH7c
— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 21, 2018
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is threatening to place “the strongest sanctions in history” on Iran if its government doesn’t change course.
Pompeo on Monday called for a new nuclear agreement with Iran following President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal. He says the Trump administration prefers for it to be a treaty that is ratified by Congress.
Pompeo is laying out an onerous list of 12 “basic requirements” demands on Iran that he says should be included. He says Iran must “stop enrichment” of uranium and never preprocess plutonium. Iran must also allow nuclear “unqualified access to all sites throughout the country.”
Pompeo says Iran must also “release all U.S. citizens,” end support for Houthi rebels in Yemen, “withdraw all forces” from Syria and stop threatening Israel.
Iran’s not likely to agree to any of this, of course, especially about Israel. The mullahcracy in Tehran has its mission to destroy Israel and to spread its Shi’a Islam to dominate the region. Its ultimate goal is control over Mecca and Medina, which makes Saudi Arabia a higher priority than even Israel or propping up Bashar al-Assad in Syria, at least for Assad’s sake. Their encirclement strategy around Riyadh is too important to worry about diplomatic and economic engagement with “the Great Satan,” even if it was nice for a while not to have economic obstruction from the US.
The real target for this speech wasn’t Tehran, though. It was the capitals of Europe, especially Berlin, Paris, and London. Pompeo intended to lay out the case that the Obama administration and the P5+1 group essentially funded Iran’s aggression in the region over the last few years with the execrable JCPOA, and that they are responsible now for cutting off that flow of funds in order to slow Tehran’s encirclement strategy:
Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, is expected to call on European countries to help ramp up economic pressure on Iran as he outlines America’s ‘Plan B’ to the nuclear deal.
Delivering his first major foreign policy speech since taking the job, Mr Pompeo will double down on the United States’ decision to quit the agreement earlier this month.
He is expected to frame the 2015 deal as allowing Iran to increase its malign influence across the Middle East on the back of funding from renewed trade with the West.
Mr Pompeo is also expected to urge other nations to join America in reimposing economic sanctions on the regime in a bid to bring it back to the negotiating table.
Pompeo wants to underscore just how serious the Trump administration is about putting the shackles back on the Iranian regime. The existing, re-imposed sanctions will already put European businesses at risk for sustaining major economic damage if they continue to work with Iran. Pompeo made it clear in his speech today that the US does not intend to find ways to avoid that damage. The “strongest sanctions in history” only work as long as the US enforces them strongly enough to make them work as deterrents. The best way for Europe to avoid getting hurt in that exchange is to join up with the US in imposing them.
This won’t prompt any immediate change from either Iran or our allies. It’s a marker laid down by Pompeo and Donald Trump, not yet an action in itself. Our allies will try to work Pompeo and Trump to mitigate those consequences, and perhaps Trump will be willing to negotiate around the edges. But Pompeo’s making it clear that the US plans to take a very hard line on Iran, and not just in nuclear-weapons proliferation.