The EU’s foreign policy chief said Monday there was “no alternative” to the Iran nuclear deal, after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed unprecedented sanctions against Tehran, and issued a raft of fresh demands following Washington’s withdrawal from the pact.
“Secretary Pompeo’s speech has not demonstrated how walking away from the JCPOA has made or will make the region safer from the threat of nuclear proliferation or how it puts us in a better position to influence Iran’s conduct in areas outside the scope of JCPOA,” Federica Mogherini said Monday, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the nuclear deal is formally known.
“There is no alternative to the JCPOA,” she added.
Pompeo on Monday warned Iran would be hit with the “strongest sanctions in history,” and cautioned European firms against continuing to do business in Tehran, toughening up Washington’s policy line after its withdrawal from the nuclear pact.
In his first major foreign policy address since moving to the State Department from the CIA, the longtime Iran hawk and ardent opponent of the 2015 nuclear pact outlined an aggressive series of moves designed to counter Tehran, which he called the world’s top sponsor of terror.
“We will apply unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime. The leaders in Tehran will have no doubt about our seriousness,” Pompeo said in a speech at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank.
“This 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.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani quickly dismissed the threats, saying the rest of the world no longer accepts Washington making decisions on their behalf.
“Who are you to decide for Iran and the world?” Rouhani said in a statement carried by multiple Iranian news agencies.
“The world today does not accept that the United States decides for the world. Countries have their independence,” he added.
Pompeo said if Iran were to abide by stricter terms, including ending its ballistic missile program and its interventions in regional conflicts from Yemen to Syria, the United States would lift its new sanctions.
“Iran will be forced to make a choice: either fight to keep its economy off life support at home or keep squandering precious wealth on fights abroad. It will not have the resources to do both,” he said.
President Donald Trump has long said the original 2015 deal with Iran — also signed by Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — did not go far enough, and now wants the Europeans and others to support his strategy.
The deal was designed to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. The international community, including top US officials, have said Tehran had been in compliance.
But Trump — backed by Israel — despised the deal, pointing to other aspects of Iranian behavior not covered in the pact, and,0- on May 8, he pulled America out despite intense diplomatic efforts by European allies who had beseeched him to stick with it by adding tougher new elements.
“Iran’s leaders saw the deal as a starting gun for the march across the Middle East,” Pompeo said.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.