US threatens Iran with the 'strongest sanctions in history'
The US today threatened Iran with the "strongest sanctions in history" if it does not give up its nuclear weapons programme and destabilising behaviour in the region and sought the support of countries like India to put pressure on Tehran.
In the aftermath of the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in his first major foreign policy speech demanded major changes from Iran and said America will not allow the country to develop a nuclear weapon: "Not now, not ever." At the same time, the Trump administration promised resumption of diplomatic and economic relations with Iran, along with financial aid, and technology transfers if Tehran agreed to a verifiable regime to give up its nuclear weapons and missile programme.
He threatened even tougher sanctions against Iran. Sanctions that had been lifted under the agreement are due to go back into effect, and they are expected to pressure an already shaky economy.
"This is just the beginning. The sting of sanctions will be painful," Pompeo said before a packed house at the conservative Heritage Foundation, a top American think-tank. "These will be the strongest sanctions in history when complete." Pompeo also sought the support of European allies and other global partners and friends, including India.
"In the strategy we are announcing today, we want the support of our most important allies and partners in the region and around the globe. I don't just mean our friends in Europe," he said.
"I mean Australia, Bahrain, Egypt, India, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, the UAE, and many, many others worldwide," Pompeo said.
Iran is India's third-largest oil supplier behind Iraq and Saudi Arabia. It supplied 18.4 million tonne of crude oil during April 2017 and January 2018 (first 10 months of 2017-18 fiscal).
"I know we share the same goals in facing the challenge from the Iranian regime. We welcome any nation which is sick and tired of the nuclear threats, the terrorism, the missile proliferation, and the brutality of a regime at peace with inflicting chaos on innocent people," he said.
Pompeo also called for a new nuclear treaty with Iran to replace the Obama-era deal that President Donald Trump withdrew from earlier this month.
But the top US diplomat issued a list of 12 requirements for such a deal, many of which Iran would be unlikely to agree to.
He said the US would apply "unprecedented financial pressure" on Iran and send teams of specialists to allies around the world to explain US policy.
Pompeo said if Iran makes "major changes" the US was willing to lift all sanctions.
Pompeo demanded that Iran must declare to the IAEA a full account of the prior military dimensions of its nuclear programme, and permanently and verifiably abandon such work in perpetuity. Iran, he said, must stop uranium enrichment and never pursue plutonium reprocessing including closing its heavy water reactor.
Demanding that Iran must also provide the IAEA with unqualified access to all sites throughout the country, Pompeo said that Iran must end its proliferation of ballistic missiles and halt further launching or development of nuclear-capable missiles, and it must release all US citizens, as well as citizens of US partners and allies, detained on spurious charges or missing in Iran.
Iran, he said, must end support to Middle East terrorist groups, including Lebanese Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Asserting that Iran must respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi government and permit the disarming, demobilisation, and reintegration of Shia militias, Pompeo said that Iran must also end its military support for the Houthi militia and work towards a peaceful political settlement in Yemen.
He also demanded that Iran must withdraw all forces under Iranian command from Syria, end support for the Taliban and other terrorists in Afghanistan and the region, and cease harbouring al-Qaeda, and it must end its Quds Force's support for terrorists and militant partners.
Pompeo said Iran must also cease its threatening behaviour against its neighbours many of whom are US allies. This includes its threats to destroy Israel, and its firing of missiles into Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It also includes its threats to international shipping and destructive cyber-attacks.
"These are 12 basic requirements. This list may seem long to some, but it is simply a reflection of the massive scope of Iranian malign behaviour. America did not create this need for changed behaviour, Iran did," Pompeo said.
"Relief from sanctions will come only when we see tangible, demonstrated, and sustained shifts in Tehran's policies," Pompeo said.
While seeking support from friends and allies on the new Iranian policy, Pompeo warned that the new Iranian sanctions would kick in if they continued business as usual with Iran.
The US is not asking anything other than Iranian behaviour that is consistent with global norms and the elimination of Iran's capacity to "threaten" the world with its nuclear activities, he said.
He acknowledged that America's reimposition of sanctions and the coming pressure campaign on the Iranian regime will pose financial and economic difficulties for a number of US friends. "We want to hear your concerns. But you should know that we will hold those doing prohibited business in Iran to account," he said.
(This article has not been edited by Zeebiz editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
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