The Drums of War

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took the opportunity of his first major policy address to further inflame relations with Iran, threatening them with “the strongest sanctions in history.”

With just over a week having passed since the U.S. withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Pompeo threatened Iran with “the strongest sanctions in history” if the government refuses to comply with U.S. demands.

Pompeo delivered the threats from the Heritage Foundation, which is a right-wing group that attempts to influence policy and passes itself off as a think-tank.

In addition to threatening Iran with sanctions, Pompeo also made it clear that European companies engaged in economic activities with Iran would not be exempted from the sanctions.

French oil company Total announced last week that it would cancel its planned contracts with Iran following the withdrawl of the U.S. from the JCPOA.

“The Iranian regime should know that this is just the beginning. 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 indeed end up being the strongest sanctions in history when we are complete.” – Pompeo

While conservatives and war-hawks alike lauded the speech for its “toughness,” others saw it as highly provocative and potentially dangerous.

“It’s implicitly a regime change policy. There’s no other possible way to interpret that speech.” — Suzanne Maloney, deputy director of the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institution

And, as if he weren’t already adding gasoline to an open flame, Pompeo went the extra step and accused Iran of conducting covert assassinations in Europe:

“Today, the Iranian Quds Force conducts covert assassination operations in the heart of Europe.”

Requests for clarification were made, but not responded to.

The comments reportedly took U.S. diplomats specializing in Iranian relations by surprise.

“There is no evidence to back the claim that currently they are carrying out such operations in Europe.” — Iraj Mesdaghi, a Sweden-based Iranian political activist

Despite the lack of an official response from the Iranian government, a reporter for Al Jazeera has indicated that, despite all his bluster, Pompeo’s words were nothing new for Tehran.

“There is such an enormous trust deficit between the US and Iran that Iranian leaders are likely to really shrug this off as yet more angry rhetoric coming from the Trump White House.”  — Zein Basravi

Pompeo’s comments intensified tensions in Europe, where the European Union has previously said that it will continue to honor the JCPOA even without the participation of the U.S.

“In many ways, it looks as if the US is dictating what should be done when, of course, from the Europeans’ point of view there is a deal already there that most European leaders say has been working and they say that Iran has been complying.”  — Natacha Butler, reporter for Al Jazeera

Here are the conditions Pompeo put forth to Iran:

  • Declare to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) a full account of the prior military dimensions of its nuclear program and permanently and verifiably abandon such work in perpetuity
  • Stop enrichment and never pursue plutonium reprocessing , including closing its heavy water reactor
  • Provide the IAEA with unqualified access to all sites throughout the entire country
  • End its proliferation of ballistic missiles and halt further launching or development of nuclear-capable missile systems
  • Release all U.S. citizens as well as citizens of U.S. partners and allies
  • End support to the Middle East “terrorist” groups, including Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad
  • Respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi government and permit the disarming, demobilisation and reintegration of Shia militias
  • End its military support for the Houthi rebels and work towards a peaceful, political settlement in Yemen
  • Withdraw all forces under Iran’s command throughout the entirety of Syria
  • End support for the Taliban and other “terrorists” in Afghanistan and the region and cease harboring senior al-Qaeda leaders
  • End the Islamic Revolutionary Guard corps-linked Quds Force’s support for “terrorists” and “militant” partners around the world
  • End its threatening behavior against its neighbors, many of whom are U.S. allies, including its threats to destroy Israel and its firing of missiles at Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and threats to international shipping and destructive cyberattacks

You know, nothing too major.

Iron Triangle Press will continue to follow this story as it develops.

To read our most recent coverage of U.S.-Iran relations and the JCPOA, click here.


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