Pompeo says he merely asked Iran to ‘behave like a normal nation’
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Pompeo says he merely asked Iran to ‘behave like a normal nation’

US secretary of state rejects claims that the demands he set Tehran this week are a ‘fantasy;’ is ‘confident’ sanctions can be coordinated with Europe

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lays out the Trump administration's new Iran strategy at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative public policy think tank, in Washington, on May 21, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lays out the Trump administration's new Iran strategy at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative public policy think tank, in Washington, on May 21, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said late Tuesday that the set of demands he set from Iran, threatening to impose the “worst sanctions in history,” were not a “fantasy” as some critics have charged, but a basic benchmark also demanded from every other country.

“I’ve seen reports that these are a fantasy and they can’t happen, but we ask for things that are really fairly simple that, frankly, most nations in the world engage in,” Pompeo said at a press conference in Washington.

“We ask them to stop firing missiles into Riyadh,” he added. “It’s not a fantasy to imagine the Iranians making a decision not to fire missiles into another nation and threatening American lives that travel through that airport. It’s not a fantasy to ask them to cease engaging in terror.”

“These were all a set of demands, the demands we put on the rest of the world, and it would benefit the Iranian people to an enormous extent,” Pompeo continued.

On Monday, Pompeo said the Trump administration was preparing to impose “the strongest sanctions in history” on Tehran after withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal earlier this month, as he laid out a list of demands for a new treaty.

“If it was the case that some other country in the Middle East desired to build a nuclear weapons system, we would work to stop them too,” he said on Tuesday. “There’s not a special category of people who are permitted to fire missiles into Riyadh. We just asked them to behave like a normal nation.”

Asked whether the sanctions could be enforced since Europrean countries, as well as Russia and China, oppose them and won’t go along with them, Pompeo said: “I am confident that we can collectively develop a diplomatic response that achieves the simple outcomes that we put forward.”

New member of the Yesh Atid Party Ram Ben Barak attends a faction meeting at the Israeli parliament on January 15, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Ram Ben Barak, a former deputy director of Israel’s Mossad spying agency, said Tuesday that Pompeo’s demands were an attempt to overthrow the Ayatollah’s regime.

“I think that is Washington’s plan,” Ben Barak told Army Radio when asked whether the immense financial pressure Pompeo has called for would create such a severe economic crisis that will topple the Islamic regime.

In his speech, Pompeo argued that Iran had advanced its march across the Middle East precisely because of  the nuclear deal, which saw the West lifting sanctions on Tehran in return for Iran limiting its nuclear program.

“Qassem Soleimani has been playing with house money that has become blood money. Wealth created by the West has fueled his campaigns,” he said.

“We will apply unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime,” Pompeo told the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank based in the nation’s capital, in his first major speech outlining Washington’s strategy for curtailing Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its “malign” regional behavior.

Islamic Revolutionary Guards al-Quds Force commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.(YouTube screenshot)

“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,” he added.

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

US President Donald 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.”

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.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is interviewed by The Associated Press in New York, April 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Ismail Kowsari, a senior officer in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, responded Monday that Pompeo deserves a “strong punch to the mouth” for threatening to ratchet up the sanctions.

“The people of Iran should stand united in the face of this and they will deliver a strong punch to the mouth of the American Secretary of State and anyone who backs them,” he said, according to Reuters.

The Iranian ILNA news site also carried a statement on Monday from the foreign ministry in Tehran, which said Pompeo’s remarks revealed the “poor intelligence, weak oversight, analytical backwardness and confusion in decision-making processes in the United States.”

The US, the statement went on, was “not entitled” to tell Iran what policies it should adopt in its own region, given that “all the problems facing the Middle East… emanate from the interference and encroachment of Washington and the medieval dictatorial governments of its allies.”

Iran, by contrast, was bringing “stabilizing and anti-terrorism measures” to the region and to the world.

The statement said Tehran regarded Pompeo’s “brazen remarks” as “gross interference in its domestic affairs and an illegal threat against a member of the United Nations.”

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