Iran shrugs off United States threat of imposing "toughest sanctions"

Mike Pompeo

Mike Pompeo

It is increasingly clear that Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the JCPOA and his escalating anti-Iranian rhetoric has given the hardliners in Iran the excuse they needed to discredit Rouhani's moderate government and pave the way for his possible removal from office.

"We understand our re-imposition of sanctions and the coming pressure campaign on the Iranian regime will pose financial and economic difficulties for a number of our friends", Pompeo said. "We will hold those doing prohibited business in Iran to account", he said, dashing all hope of finding a way forward that doesn't pitch Europe against Washington. And there's little sign they want to go along. "Countries have their own independence", Rouhani said in a statement, according to Iranian news agencies. Their governments could continue their agreement with Iran, but risk running afoul of USA sanctions.

Maas said he will travel to Washington to talk with Pompeo this week. A bad decision such as imposing even tougher sanctions on Iran, an attempt at regime change, or a military strike of any sort would push the country towards a military theocracy far more repressive and uncompromising than before both at home and overseas. "America did not create this need for changed behavior". The requirement that nuclear inspectors get universal access would include military sites - long a red line for the regime. Funding of Hezbollah and Hamas must end.

Pompeo gave no indication that European companies will be given waivers.

The Europeans have pledged to uphold the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) together with Iran but fallen short of giving Tehran concrete guarantees that trade would remain intact.

Iran would also have to walk away from core pillars of its foreign policy, including its involvement in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Afghanistan. "The idea of a jumbo Iran treaty (is) very hard". Others anxious that Pompeo was forcing Iran into a corner, one likely to raise tensions in the region.

"Trump's secretary of state is 40 years behind the times".

John Bolton, the United States national security advisor, has been a supporter of the MKO, which the Iranian government sees as a terrorist group. The 2015 deal concluded under the Obama administration dealt only with the nuclear programme and was not a treaty but rather a UN-endorsed executive agreement between the parties.

Critics rounded on Pompeo's speech, saying his demands could have been made without pulling America from the nuclear deal. Instead, Trump wants North Korea to give up everything first.

The differences between the two are significant.

"This deal belongs to the worldwide community, having been endorsed by the United Nations Security Council".

Salehi said "until these promises are not implemented and put into practice, we can not speak firmly". Even then, analysts argue that Kim's gentler tone was the result of internal considerations and not wholly dependent on United States action.

First and foremost, it is highly crucial for Iran that the Europeans keep buying oil from the country - now around 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) or roughly 40% of overall Iranian oil exports.

The Iranian people will punch the US Secretary of State in the mouth in response to a new American plan to pressure Iran, a senior Revolutionary Guards commander said on Tuesday. "These will be the strongest sanctions in history by the time we are complete".

Meanwhile, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning said the military was weighing "new actions" to counter Iran's influence in the Middle East, but he stressed this was part of a "whole of government" approach and offered no details. "It is not acceptable under any circumstance", Rouhani said to a group of university teachers in Tehran. But will it lead to regime change?

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