A senior Iranian military commander reacted on Monday with scorn to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's threat to impose new economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic, pledging that the Iranian people would punch Pompeo in the mouth.
Pompeo vowed to crank up the pressure on Iran with "the strongest sanctions in history", saying the United States wanted "the support of our most important allies and partners in the region and around the globe" to implement it.
The head of Iran's National Security and Foreign Policy committee in parliament said that the only way to salvage the nuclear deal would be for the European signatories to stand up to the United States.
There is no defending Iran's support for Bashar al-Assad, the bloody dictator in Syria, or its use of Hezbollah militants to control Lebanon and threaten Israel.
The speech didn't clarify how Washington would go about imposing the toughest sanctions without the full cooperation of Russia, China and the EU.
He warned that any entity conducting business with Tehran would be "held to account" by the United States, voicing hope that the new anti-Iranian sanctions will be met with support from U.S. allies beyond Europe.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is interviewed by The Associated Press in New York, April 24, 2018.
To that end, he also said Iran must declare all previous efforts to build a nuclear weapon, reopening an issue that the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency has already deemed a closed matter.
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In exchange, the USA would be willing to lift all sanctions and normalise diplomatic and commercial relations.
Mike Pompeo did not say what new measures the U.S. was contemplating but he described sanctions imposed on head of Iran's central bank as "just the beginning". The demands are created to shut the door on negotiations, not open it.
Europeans say that Pompeo's speech does not leave much room for negotiating with Iran. In the words of NCRI president-elect Maryam Rajavi, regime change in Iran is "a requisite for regional peace, democracy, security, and stability". He said Iran's people must be the ones to decide and "make a choice about their leadership".
"People like Pompeo and Bolton are not interested in any sort of political settlement with the Iranian government", said Foad Izadi, a foreign policy specialist at the University of Tehran. "If they choose not to do so, we will stay hard at this until we achieve the outcomes that I set forward today".
Instead of suggesting a re-negotiation of the Iran deal, Pompeo outlined 12 tough conditions from Washington for any "new deal" with Tehran to make sure it "will never again have carte blanche to dominate the Middle East".
Pompeo drew a direct link to the North Korea negotiation, saying Trump's willingness to meet with Kim Jong Un showed the administration's dedication to diplomacy.
Regardless of the future of the JCPOA, the Iranian regime's threat requires a more comprehensive approach. As of now, the Trump administration appears adamant.
Well before Pompeo spoke, European leaders suggested that the U.S. approach won't work. "Anytime sanctions are put in place, countries have to give up economic activity", he said bluntly.
Total SA, the French oil and gas giant, is already considering withdrawing from a multi-billion-dollar gas project in Iran because of USA sanctions.