Iran Threatens to Punch Mike Pompeo in the Mouth

Joann Johnston
May 23, 2018

Remarkably, Pompeo made no concessions to European leaders who want to salvage the nuclear deal and continue relations with Iran.

In his first major foreign policy address since moving to the State Department from the Central Intelligence Agency, the longtime Iran hawk and ardent opponent of the 2015 nuclear pact outlined an aggressive series of moves created to counter Tehran, which he called the world's top sponsor of terror.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, for his part, said that Berlin had "taken into account the U.S. position" and that "it did not come as surprise".

The older American sanctions prohibited nearly all trade with Iran, making some exceptions only for activity "intended to benefit the Iranian people" such as the export of medical and agricultural equipment.

Germany's economy minister earlier told a newspaper the Berlin government would help German firms with business in Iran where it could, but could not entirely shield them from the USA decision to quit the Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions. He also demanded Iran end support for other militant groups, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Iran, he added, was working with the other partners of the nuclear deal to find a solution. The world today doesn't accept that the USA decides for the world. "The Iranian wave of destruction in the region in just the last few years is proof that Iran's nuclear aspirations can not be separated from the overall security picture", he added.

"We welcome any nation which is sick and exhausted of the nuclear threats, the terrorism, the missile proliferation and the brutality of a regime at peace with inflicting chaos on innocent people", he said. She also explained that Europeans are still unsure of the USA rationale for leaving the deal. He made the remarks in his first address to the State Department while unveiling the U.S. administration's "Plan B" for countering Iran.

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The Iran nuclear deal was signed between six countries in 2015 - Iran, US, Britain, Germany, Russia, France and China for lifting economic sanctions on Tehran in exchange for limitations to the country's nuclear programme.

Limiting Iran's missile capabilities was one of Pompeo's main demands, as the Iranian military has carried out a series of ballistic missile tests in recent years. But on Monday, he warned that once restrictions in the deal expire, Iran "would be free for a quick sprint to the bomb - setting off a potentially catastrophic arms race in the region".

"It must cease its threatening behaviour against its neighbours", Pompeo said.

He insisted diplomacy was the first choice, however.

"Iran rejects the allegations and lies in this so-called new strategy and condemns the US Secretary of State's ... open interference in its internal affairs and the unlawful threats against a United Nations member state", state TV quoted a foreign ministry statement as saying.

The world's experience with regime change in Iraq should make clear why this is a bad idea.

"Relief from sanctions will come only when we see tangible, demonstrated, and sustained shifts in Tehran's policies", Pompeo said. Others anxious that Pompeo was forcing Iran into a corner, one likely to raise tensions in the region. "It will not have the resources to do both", Pompeo said. "It seems to be an intentional way to get into a confrontation with Iran".

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