Pompeo Says US Will 'Crush' Iran With 'Strongest Sanctions in History'

The tension between the two countries has grown notably since U.S. President Trump; this month withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement.

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened Monday to impose the "strongest sanctions in history" against Iran if it did not accept a series of demands from the Donald Trump administration, which includes effectively give up nuclear power initiatives and its conventional ballistic missile program.

RELATED: Pompeo Confirmed US Secretary of State, Begins Middle East Trip

Weeks after the Americans pulled out of an international nuclear deal with Iran, Pompeo spelled out a hardline approach towards the Islamic Republic, potentially setting Washington and Tehran on course for further confrontation.

"The sting of sanctions will only grow more painful if the regime does not change course from the unacceptable and unproductive path it has chosen for itself and the people of Iran," Pompeo said in his first major foreign policy speech since becoming secretary of state.

"These will be the strongest sanctions in history by the time we are done," he added.

Pompeo also claimed Iran's policy of expanding its influence in the Middle East through support for some countries such as Syria and Yemen where the U.S. has also sort to extend their influence was unacceptable.

He warned that the United States would "crush" Iranian operatives and allies abroad and told Tehran to withdraw all forces under its command from the Syrian civil war where they back President Bashar al-Assad.

Iran is unlikely to accede to the U.S. demands. The tension between the two countries has grown notably since U.S. President Trump; this month withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement aimed at preventing Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Pompeo warned that if Iran fully resumed its nuclear program, Washington would be ready to respond and said the administration would hold companies doing prohibited business in Iran to account.

"Our demands on Iran are not unreasonable: give up your program," Pompeo said, "Should they choose to go back, should they begin to enrich, we are fully prepared to respond to that as well," he said, declining to elaborate.

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Pullout from JCPOA, embassy move US historic mistakes

TEHRAN, May 15 (MNA) – Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has said that the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal and relocation of its embassy to al-Quds were two historic mistakes made by the US administration.

"History will judge that these two decisions have been very incorrect and imprecise towards Iran and the peoples of the region," Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday while meeting with the new ambassador of New Zealand to Tehran.

Referring to the objections of the global community towards these two decisions, Rouhani said "the first outcome of the incorrect decisions is Washington's isolation in the public opinion of the world."

With regard to the bilateral relations between Iran and New Zealand, President Rouhani stressed that Tehran welcomes development of friendly relations with Wellington and referred to the ample potentials for deepening of these relations.

He added "there are good potentials for development of relations between Iran and New Zealand that must be taken advantage of and Tehran is ready to cement scientific, commercial and tourism ties with Wellington".

The Iranian president also appreciated the positive stances of New Zealand on the JCPOA and said "2015 was the year of success of politics and diplomacy over hostility and unfriendly relations among countries and the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran believes that constructive interaction with the countries of the world and adoption of a win-win approach will be beneficial for the entire world."

Iran has always been committed to its obligations in the international stage, he said, adding that in the case of the JCPOA, 11 reports by the IAEA verify this and the US' withdrawal from the deal is a political and moral defeat for the US administration.

New Ambassador of New Zealand to Tehran Hamish MacMaster presented his letter of credence to President Rouhani and stressed that Wellington was willing to deepen and cement relations with Tehran in all fields, especially economy.

He added "the two governments and nations of Iran and New Zealand have close, friendly relationship with each other and it is imperative that this relationship is further strengthened."

KI/PR

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Trump: His sins do not keep him awake

The case of porn“actress” Stormy Daniels (Stephanie Clifford) for her secret love affairs with President Donald Trump hit the headlines once again.

On Monday, news agency Associated Press (AP) commented her message on TV show “Saturday Night Live”.

The text: “A storm’s a coming, baby”, she said so to actor Alec Baldwin, who played “Trump” in that show.

During the exchange between the two, the actor asks her “What can I give you so all this goes away?”, and she replies: “Your resignation.”

As it is known, Stormy Daniels has filed several defamation suits against both the president and his personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

Until now, Trump does not admit the allegations.

According to Spanish news agency EFE, the current lawyer of the head of state and former New York Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, told reporters not to rule out the possibility of other similar payments on confidentiality deals over different intimate encounters of the president.

Last Sunday, ABC chain asked Giuliani “Whether Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, had made payments to other women”, and he replied: “I have no knowledge of that; I’d think that if it was necessary, yes.”

Giuliani considers that the payment to Daniels in 2016 is a “nuisance” and points out that Cohen is being investigated on criminal charges now.

For his part, Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels’ attorney, threw another pretty delicate accusation against the president of having “an extramarital affair slush fund.”

In his statements to ABC, he said it is administered by Michael Cohen and asserted there are other payments of equal concept because of the attention that his team of lawyers has offered to such consultations.

What he said could further jeopardize the president’s controversial authority, but without the slightest doubt, it will not contribute –not even in half an inch– to strengthen it.

Anyway, for the hard-line and insensitive sector that follows Donald Trump, these new disclosures do not keep him awake.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

Lavrov: US Plan on Arab Troops Deployment in Syria 'Sovereignty Violation'

Russia and Egypt are united in their belief that there is no military solution to the conflict in Syria. Moscow and Cairo will coordinate actions on this issue, Lavrov said after talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in Moscow.

Acting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to discuss topical issues on the international agenda, including the situation in Syria and the Iran nuclear deal, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"We are convinced, like our Egyptian friends, that there is no military solution to this conflict. The adjustment of disputes can be achieved exclusively through political means through a comprehensive cross-Syrian dialogue in full accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and the outcome of the Congress of the Syrian National Dialogue, which was held in Sochi on January 30," Lavrov said.

According to Lavrov, the parties reaffirmed their mutual commitment to the close coordination of Russian-Egyptian actions in the Syrian direction.

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Europe Can No Longer Rely On US To "Protect" It: Angela Merkel

Aachen:  Europe can no longer rely on the United States to protect it, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday, urging the bloc to take its destiny in its own hands.

"It is no longer such that the United States simply protects us, but Europe must take its destiny in its own hands, that's the task of the future," she said, after US President Donald Trump left traditional allies scrambling by ditching the landmark Iran nuclear deal.

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Iran still complying with nuclear deal says UN atomic watchdog chief

The Iranian regime has complied with its nuclear commitments made under the deal signed in 2015, the IAEA director general said in a statement, just one day after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal.

“Iran is subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime under the JCPOA, which is a significant verification gain,” Yukiya Amano said Wednesday, using the full title of the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). “As of today, the IAEA can confirm that the nuclear-related commitments are being implemented by Iran.”

The original deal was signed by the Iranian government, the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) and the European Union in Vienna on July 14, 2015.

Under the terms, negotiated over a period of 20 months, Iran agreed to eliminate entirely its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, cut its inventory of low-enriched uranium by 98 percent and dispose of approximately two-thirds of its gas centrifuges for a period of 13 years.

In addition, Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment program to not exceed 3.67-percent enrichment, which could only take place in a single facility, using first-generation centrifuges for a period of 10 years. It also vowed not to construct any new heavy-water facilities for 15 years.   

@RT_com EU leaders decry Trump’s withdrawal from Iran deal, vow to work together to maintain it https://on.rt.com/94ur

Trump’s decision has been widely panned among the international community, with many of his European allies issuing statements saying they would not follow the US in dismantling or abandoning the deal but would, instead, work to strengthen it into a broader, more far-reaching agreement. So far, Trump has received support from the governments of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

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Will Donald Trump kick the can over Iran nuclear deal?

US President Donald Trump has used a bombastic approach to gain the attention of European nations, using them as leverage as he bids to alter the Iran nuclear deal, former Pentagon official Michel Maloof tells RT.

Despite international pressure, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani says his country plans to stay in the agreement even if the United States backs out – as long as the other members agree to honor the agreement.

Meanwhile, Trump has left the world waiting after firing off a tweet saying he would decide on the fate of the Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson paid a last-minute visit to Washington in a bid to sway his thinking on the matter. Johnson met with newly-appointed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and appeared on Trump's favorite TV show Fox & Friends.

RT discussed the current situation over Iran with former Pentagon official Maloof.

RT: UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson appeared on American news programs saying that Trump should not “junk the deal” but rather fix those issues that he doesn't agree with in order to keep Iran in line and not to start an arms race in the Middle East. Do you see Mr Johnson's request as an accurate characterization of the problems here?

 
FILE PHOTO: Iran's President Hassan Rouhani © Eduardo Munoz

Michael Maloof: I think he does reflect the European point of view. And I think, on the other hand, you have President Trump who has shown a bombasity initially, and then he seeks to leverage other countries, to do what he wants them to do in order to gain control. He has the attention of the Europeans, that's for sure. And I think that the Europeans all of a sudden say, “Yeah, the deal is not perfect. We will work on it.” The question is will Iran go along with it? And so far they don't appear to be forthcoming with any fixes, whatsoever, at this point. And that has to be weighed into the equation when Trump makes his decision…

RT: President Rouhani said: “What we want for the deal is that it's preserved and guaranteed by the non-Americans. And then the US pullout will be okay. We would get rid of the mischievous element that always causes trouble. And if what we want is not fulfilled, we have our own legal and lawful path and have our own plans.”  He said they have their own plans, they're going to go through with it anyway, we don't know what those are. But we do know that a little over a week ago the French President Emmanuel Macron was in the US, Angela Merkel was in the US. They paid a visit to the White House. We know that the Iran nuclear deal was a major topic to be discussed when they were in the US. It's not a secret that all the other five world powers want the US to stay: Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. They all say that even if the US withdraws, they are still going to move forward with it. Rouhani did say he has a plan…

MM: His plan is to stay with the Europeans, at this point. That is what he has announced so far and so has Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. It really benefits them to do that because any sanctions imposed, if all the other countries dropped out, it would severely cripple an already serious economic problem that Iran has. They don't want to do that. I think Iran is playing both sides at this point. They know that if Trump does something economically, it could really affect them – particularly if he imposes sanctions should he drop out. We don't know yet. My personal view is, he is going to kick the can, give the Europeans another three-months to try to improve the existing arrangement, although he is under severe pressure from the neocons to abandon it.

There is a lot of pressure on Trump to make a decision one way or another. Boris Johnson went there to try to speak to him and maybe talk some sense into him so he doesn’t pull out of the deal…Trump is being pressured by Benjamin Netanyahu and the hawks in the White House such as John Bolton and Mike Pompeo to push the state forward, to pull out of the deal. Essentially, these war hawks just want to start a war somewhere because it is what these people thrive on – political analyst Shabbir Hassanaly

RT: Trump tweeted that he is going to make a major announcement about Iran Tuesday afternoon, so I guess we have to see what he is going to say there. But you know what else he tweeted about was former Secretary of State John Kerry. And he is saying that he has allegedly been meddling with the deal that was brokered under Kerry's watch and Obama's watch. President Trump is calling this “shadow diplomacy,” blasting Kerry on Twitter. What do you make of this ex-statesman still communicating with Iranian officials?

MM: It is not unusual for former secretaries of state to continue relationships, to talk to their foreign counterparts. There's nothing wrong with it. He is not trying to change anything per se, to come under the purview of the so-called Logan Act which has never been violated by anybody. From Kerry’s standpoint, he is trying to preserve what he has worked so hard to accomplish. Even though it's limited in scope.

France has tried, Germany has tried, no one seems to get through to Trump except Netanyahu and the war hawks…Now, they will be pushing harder and harder to get a war with Iran. With the deal dead, there is going to be a lot more warmongering, you’ll have accusations of WMD’s like we had in 2002-2003 in the run up to Iraq –  political analyst Shabbir Hassanaly

RT: You don't see this as a taboo move given that he's not a part of the administration?

MM: No, it's really not. You've seen  (Madeleine) Albright when she was a former secretary of state, she was involved in talking to counterparts to try to maintain a certain amount of diplomacy. The question is will Trump go along with any of this? That is the big question.

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If US scraps Iranian nuclear deal, it ‘could mean war’ – French President Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron has warned that the US pulling out of the nuclear deal with Iran “could mean war.” Trump has until May 12 to either re-certify the deal or dump it, as he has repeatedly threatened.

Scrapping the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran “would mean opening Pandora’s box, it could mean war,” according to an undated quote from Macron provided in the latest Der Spiegel magazine edition. 

However, the worst-case scenario may not in fact materialize, as the French leader said he does not believe that US President Donald Trump is really seeking a military conflict.

 
Pro-government demonstrators wave their national flag during a march in the Iranian city of Qom on January 3, 2018. © Mohammad Ali Marizad

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), branding it the “worst deal ever” and urging parties to “fix” it. Following the recent visit of Macron to the US, Trump boasted that he changed the French President’s stance on the deal, stating that “he is viewing Iran a lot differently than he did before he walked into the Oval Office.”

While France, the UK and Germany, the European signatories to the deal, who had firmly opposed Trump’s attempts to “fix” it, did not join Trump’s drive against it, they seemingly have amended their position. They now want to address “important elements that the deal does not cover,” including Iran’s ballistic missile program, as well as its activities in the region.

Tehran, however, maintains that the 2015 agreement is not subject to re-negotiation, as it fully adheres to it. Iran’s compliance with the terms of the deal, which obliged the country to drastically curb its nuclear activities, has been repeatedly confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which monitors the JCPOA’s implementation. Trump however, argued, that Tehran somehow violated “the spirit” of the deal.

As the deadline for Donald Trump to recertify the deal or withdraw from it approaches (it’s set for May 12), the situation around the JCPOA gets more and more heated. Earlier this week, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu presented a large batch of materials, said to be documents on the Iranian nuclear program, acquired by the country’s intelligence.

READ MORE: ‘Bullying others’: Iranian FM slams US over its handling of nuclear deal

Netanyahu claimed that the documents proved that Tehran has preserved a military nuclear program within the confines of the JCPOA. The premier summarized the intelligence findings as “Iran lied, big time.” Tehran firmly rejected the allegations, calling Netanyahu himself a “broke and infamous liar.”

On Sunday, Iran once again warned the US against breaking the nuclear deal, with President Hassan Rouhani saying that “if the United States leaves the nuclear agreement, you will soon see that they will regret it like never before in history.”

 

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