Weeks after US President Donald Trump pulled out of an global nuclear deal with Iran, his administration threatened to impose "the strongest sanctions in history", setting Washington and Tehran on a deeper course of confrontation.
Soon after the speech, a member of the Iranian parliament's national security committee called Pompeo's strategy nothing more than "U.S. dreams" and suggested the best thing to do was to wait for a change in position after Trump leaves office, whenever that may be.
"The sting of sanctions will be painful if the regime does not change its course from the unacceptable and unproductive path it has chosen to one that rejoins the league of nations". "These will end up being the strongest sanctions in history by the time we are complete", Pompeo said.
The suggestion of a further US military role in the region was striking, since US President Donald Trump has said he seeks to draw down the US troop presence in Syria, where Iran provides training and arms to militiamen. "We acknowledge Iran's right to defend its people". Tension between the two countries has grown notably since President Trump this month withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement aimed at preventing Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
In an effort to save the deal, the EU will, The Hill noted, invoke the so-called blocking statute, meant to protect European companies doing business with Iran from American sanctions.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani quickly dismissed the threats, saying the rest of the world no longer accepts Washington making decisions on their behalf. "Iran will be forced to make a choice: either fight to keep its economy off life support at home or keep squandering precious wealth on fights overseas".
"The list of requirements of the Iranians asks for everything but conversion to Christianity and reads more like a demand for unconditional surrender than an actual attempt at negotiation", said Jeremy Shapiro, research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations.
"Who are you to want to dictate to Iran and the world, and tell Iran what to do or not to do when it comes to nuclear technology?" The negotiators reached broad agreement on addressing Iran's ballistic missile program and expanding nuclear inspections. Iran "should know that this is just the beginning". The Islamic Republic "will never again have carte blanche to dominate the Middle East".
Rouhani said the world can not tolerate that the USA decide for the world through bullying.
Under the 2015 deal with six world powers - China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the U.S. and Germany, as well as the European Union - Iran scaled back its enrichment of uranium and vowed not to pursue nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief.
France, Germany and Britain have said they will try to save the nuclear deal with Tehran. "This approach could help the Iranian authorities to receive their oil-related revenues, particularly in case of us sanctions which could target European Union entities active in oil transactions with Iran".
In a speech in Washington, America's top diplomat said Iran would be "battling to keep its economy alive" after the sanctions took effect.
Iran has been moving ahead to build nuclear weapons. He further said Tehran should stop threatening Israel, and release all US citizens in Iranian custody. The administration will then need to contemplate whether it is really willing to declare economic warfare on our own allies to force them out of a deal which, for now, Iran is in compliance with.
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