Netanyahu hails tough new US strategy on Iran as ‘the right policy’
PM: No enrichment, harsh sanctions, Iran to get out of Syria

Netanyahu hails tough new US strategy on Iran as ‘the right policy’

PM urges other countries to follow in Washington’s footsteps after Pompeo lays out steep demands for fresh nuclear pact, threatens ‘strongest sanctions in history’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) meets with Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem on May 21, 2018. (AFP/POOL/Sebastian Scheiner)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) meets with Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem on May 21, 2018. (AFP/POOL/Sebastian Scheiner)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday applauded the United States for its pledge to impose “the strongest sanctions in history” on Iran, unless the regime changes its ways, while calling on other countries to follow Washington’s lead.

“No enrichment, tough sanctions and Iran should get out of Syria — we believe that it’s only policy that can ultimately guarantee peace. We call on all countries to follow America’s lead here,” Netanyahu said at a Foreign Ministry reception in honor of Paraguay’s embassy move to Jerusalem.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier on Monday laid out a laundry list of American demands for a new Iran nuclear deal, in his first major speech outlining Washington’s strategy for curtailing the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions and its “malign” regional behavior.

Pompeo said a stronger pact should require that Iran stop enrichment of uranium, which was allowed within strict limitations under the previous deal. Iran would also have to walk away from core pillars of its foreign policy, including its involvement in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Afghanistan.

“This list may seem long to some, but it is simply a reflection of the massive scope of Iranian malign behavior,” Pompeo said. “America did not create this need for changed behavior. Iran did.”

Those terms were hailed by Netanyahu, who said, “Thank you, America. This is the right policy.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the Heritage Foundation May 21, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty Images/AFP)

The US demands would fix what Israel said was a major shortcoming of the 2015 deal, namely linking Iran’s other activities, including support for terror and threats against the Jewish state, with its nuclear program.

“Iran doesn’t need centrifuges for enrichment,” Netanyahu said. “If Iran wanted to pursue a peaceful nuclear program they wouldn’t need to hide their nuclear archive.”

The prime minister was referring to a trove of documents seized by Israel in a sting Mossad operation, covertly transferred to the Jewish state, and unveiled by Netanyahu on April 30 to underscore that Iran had lied about its earlier nuclear ambitions.

Unlike South Africa and Libya, Iran did not destroy its nuclear archive when it dismantled its atomic program, said Netanyahu. “But Iran hid the archive, moved it from place to place.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a speech on files obtained by Israel he says proves Iran lied about its nuclear program, at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, on April 30, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

In his remarks, Pompeo had threatened punishing sanctions against Tehran unless it amends its ways.

“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,” the US secretary of state said.

“Sanctions are going back in full effect, and new ones are coming,” he warned. “The Iranian regime should know this is just the beginning.”

Fulminating against the landmark international agreement brokered under the Obama administration, Pompeo said US President Donald Trump was “willing, ready and able” to negotiate a new deal, but not inside the context of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the deal is formally known.

“We will not renegotiate the JCPOA itself,” he said.

Trump’s newly installed top diplomat also hinted at the possibility of military action should Iranian leaders reconstitute their nuclear program.

“If they restart their nuclear program, they will have big problems, bigger problems than they’ve ever had before,” he said.

Pompeo also threatened to “crush” Iran’s terrorist proxies around the world.”

“We will ensure freedom of navigation on the waters in the region. We will work to prevent and counteract any Iranian malign cyber activity. We will track down Iranian operatives and their Hezbollah proxies operating around the world and crush them,” said the secretary. “Iran will never again have carte blanche to dominate the Middle East.”

Pompeo, one of the administration’s most strident critics of the pact, vowed to never let Iran develop a nuclear weapon while ticking off “12 conditions” that the United States considers prerequisites for any firm agreement with the Islamic Republic. He said the length of the list was simple testament to the “scope of the malign behavior of Iran.”

Pompeo demanded that Iran come clean about all of its past nuclear work, completely stop its uranium enrichment, provide the International Atomic Energy Agency “unqualified access to all sites throughout the country,” halt its ballistic missile development and testing, end its support for Middle East terrorist groups, and respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi government.

“We will continue to work with our allies to counter the regime’s destabilizing activities in the region, block their financing of terror, and address Iran’s proliferation of missiles and other advanced weapons that threaten peace and stability,” Pompeo said. “We will also ensure Iran has no possible path to a nuclear weapon — ever.”

He also said the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps must end its support for terrorists and that Iran must “end its threatening behavior against its neighbors, including Israel.”

Iran, he said, must also remove all its forces from Syria.

At the same time, Pompeo offered Iran a series of dramatic potential US concessions if it agrees to make “major changes.” Under a new agreement, the US would be willing to lift all sanctions, restore full diplomatic and commercial ties with Iran, and even support the modernization of its economy, Pompeo said.

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