Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said renewed US sanctions on Iran will be rigorously enforced and remain in place until the Iranian government radically changes course.
Speaking to reporters aboard his plane on his way home from a three-nation trip to Southeast Asia, Pompeo said Monday’s re-imposition of sanctions is an important pillar in US policy toward Iran. He said the Trump administration is open to looking beyond sanctions but that would “require enormous change” from Tehran.
Pompeo called the Iranian leadership “bad actors” and said Trump is intent on getting them to “behave like a normal country”. He noted that the US has long designated Iran as the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism and said it cannot expect to be treated as an equal in the international community until it halts such activities.
Unrest in Iran
The sanctions come at a time of unrest for Iran. There have been days of protests and strikes across the country over water shortages, corruption and the suffering economy.
The tensions have already fuelled a run on Iran’s currency, which has lost more than half its value since April.
Sanctions are due to return in two phases on August 6 and November 5 – with the first targeting Iran’s access to US banknotes and key industries including cars and carpets.
The second phase – blocking Iran’s oil sales – is due to cause more damage, although several countries including China, India and Turkey have indicated they are not willing to entirely cut their Iranian energy purchases.
After months of fierce rhetoric, Trump surprised observers last week when he offered to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani without preconditions.
That came only a few days after a bellicose exchange between the two presidents, with Rouhani warning of the ‘mother of all wars’ and Trump responding with an all-capitals Twitter tirade, threatening Iran with ‘CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE’.
To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2018
There have been ongoing rumours that Trump and Rouhani could meet in New York later this month, where they are both attending the UN General Assembly – though Rouhani reportedly rejected US overtures for a meeting at last year’s event.
Over the weekend Trump once again floated the idea of meeting, tweeting “I will meet, or not meet, it doesn’t matter – it is up to them!”
“Iran, and its economy, is going very bad, and fast!” he added.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)