US promises 'strongest sanctions in history' against Iran

US promises 'strongest sanctions in history' against Iran
The US will apply "unprecented financial pressure" on Iran, he new US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in his first policy speech since taking office.
2 min read
21 May, 2018
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo unveiled a "diplomatic roadmap" for Iran [Getty]
The US will apply "unprecedented financial pressure" on Iran with the "strongest sanctions in history" if Tehran does not change course, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday.

The US top diplomat unleashed a diatribe against Iran in his first major foreign policy address since taking office.

Speaking at the Heritage Foundation, Pompeo said the US will ensure Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons "not now, not ever".

This will be done by applying "unprecedented financial pressure" on the regime, with "the strongest sanctions in history" back in full effect and new ones coming, Pompeo said.

He also vowed the US will "crush" Iranian proxies around the world including Hizballah. 

The Secretary of State also pledged to "advocate tirelessly" for the Iranian people and urge the regime to "cease wasting Iran's wealth abroad".

Pompeo then outlined 12 demands of the Iranian government in order for the US to end sanctions and restore diplomatic and commercial relations.

These included ending support for Yemen's Houthi rebels and Lebanese Hizballah, withdrawing Iranian-backed troops in Syria, the disarmament of Iran-backed militias in Iraq, release US citizens detained in Iran on "spurious charges", end uranium enrichment and halt its ballistic missile programme.

It must also provide the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access across the whole country for inspections.

Pompeo said the US did not seek to renegotiate the JCPOA, but establish a treaty with Iran which would "endure beyond the Trump administration".

It has been two weeks since Trump announced the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal which sought to curb Iran's nuclear weapons programme in exchange for lifting of economic sanctions.

The president has long trashed the deal, negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama, together with Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, saying it did not do enough to curtail Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

The Republican leader also said it did not go far enough in restricting Iran's ballistic missile program, or its intervention in regional conflicts from Yemen to Iraq and Syria.

The big unknown is whether European leaders, who were bitterly disappointed by Trump's decision to ditch the deal, would be willing to return to talks with his administration any time soon.

The European Union is trying to persuade Iran to stay in the 2015 agreement, even without Washington's participation.

The IAEA has said that, thanks to access afforded under the accord, inspection work has doubled since 2013, with its inspectors now spending 3,000 man-days per year on the ground in Iran last year.

The body has certified Iran's compliance with the deal nine times, most recently in November.

Agencies contributed to this report.