US threatens ‘strongest sanctions in history’ against Iran

The US will impose unprecedented sanctions against Iran if it does not abide by a list of demands, says Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened on Monday to impose “the strongest sanctions in history” if Iran doesn’t meet a list of demands, including abandoning its involvement in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Afghanistan.

Pompeo also demanded that Iran stop enrichment of uranium, which had been allowed within strict limitations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a deal reached in 2015 between Iran and the US under president Barack Obama.

US President Donald Trump scuttled the deal in accordance with its stipulations which required a periodic presidential reaffirmation.

Pompeo’s speech, given at the conservative Heritage Foundation, was his first major policy speech since taking over as top diplomat. It was also the first time since Trump’s decision to pull out of the deal that the US was articulating what it was demanding in its stead.

Pompeo vowed that Trump’s approach would ensure “Iran has no possible path to a nuclear weapon, ever.” As he called for a better agreement to constrain Iran’s activities, he said the US would “apply unprecedented financial pressure” to bring Tehran back to the table.

“These will end up being the strongest sanctions in history by the time we are complete,” Pompeo said.

Carrot after the stick

At the same time, Pompeo offered Iran a series of dramatic potential US concessions if it agrees to make “major changes.” Under a new agreement, the US would be willing to lift all sanctions, restore full diplomatic and commercial ties with Iran, and even support the modernization of its economy, Pompeo said.

“It is America’s hope that our labors toward peace and security will bear fruit for the long-suffering people of Iran,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo’s list of 12 requirements included allowing nuclear inspectors “unqualified access to all sites throughout the country,”

Iran must also reveal all previous efforts to build a nuclear weapon, reopening an issue that the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency has already deemed a closed matter.

Iran must also “release all US citizens” missing in Iran or being held on “spurious charges,” he said.

In another departure from the Obama administration’s approach, Pompeo said that “a treaty is our preferred way to go.” Former President Barack Obama did not seek a Senate-ratified treaty with Iran because of the dim prospects for getting approval from a Republican-run Congress.