US Seeks Support for Campaign to Force Radical Change in Iran’s Behavior

By Patrick Goodenough | May 21, 2018 | 7:26pm EDT
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the Heritage Foundation on Monday, May 21, 2018. (Screen capture: YouTube)

( – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday laid out an ambitious plan for an international campaign aimed at bringing about a radical change in the conduct at home and abroad of the Iranian regime as it approaches its 40th anniversary.

Unlike the nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration, he said in a speech at the Heritage Foundation, President Trump would prefer any resulting agreement with Iran to take the form of a treaty – one that would “have broad support with the American people and endure beyond the Trump administration.”

The deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – from which Trump withdrew this month – focused on Iran’s nuclear activities but left the rest of the regime’s malign behavior off the table.

“We will not repeat the mistakes of past administrations, and we will not renegotiate the JCPOA itself,” Pompeo said. “The Iranian wave of destruction in the region in just the last few years is proof that Iran’s nuclear aspirations cannot be separated from the overall security picture.”

Pompeo listed 12 major changes the regime would have to make to its behavior in order “to gain acceptance in the international community.”

On the nuclear issue, they include an end to uranium enrichment and a shutdown of Iran’s heavy water reactor; a full accounting to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of the “prior military dimensions of its nuclear program,” and actions to “permanently and verifiably abandon such work in perpetuity,” including providing the IAEA “with unqualified access to all sites throughout the entire country.”

Other demands of Iran included an end to the development and launching of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, the release of imprisoned American citizens, an end to support for violent groups including Hezbollah, Hamas, the Houthis in Yemen and the Taliban, a troop withdrawal from Syria, and an end to threatening behavior towards other countries in the region.

Pompeo acknowledged that the list was a long one, but said that was simply a reflection of the “scope of the malign behavior of Iran. We didn’t create the list, they did.”

Before the JCPOA was negotiated, he said,, those expectations of Iran’s behavior were the “global consensus.”

“We’re not asking anything other than that Iranian behavior be consistent with global norms, global norms widely recognized before the JCPOA.”

Pompeo appealed for international support for such a pressure campaign, from European allies but also from countries like Australia, South Korea, India, Egypt and the Gulf states.

In the event Iran does make those changes, the U.S. would be prepared to take major actions that would benefit the Iranian people, including the lifting of all sanctions, the restoration of diplomatic and economic ties, and support for “the modernization and reintegration of the Iranian economy into the international economic system.”

“But relief from our efforts will come only when we see tangible, demonstrated, and sustained shifts in Tehran’s policies,” he stressed.

‘We will crush them’

Outlining the path ahead post-JCPOA, Pompeo said the U.S. will apply unprecedented financial pressure on the regime, re-imposing former sanctions and adding new ones.

He made clear other countries would pay the price if they did not cooperate: “We will hold those doing prohibited business in Iran to account.”

And if U.S. allies want to “keep their old nuclear deal going with Tehran,” he said in reference to Britain, France and Germany, “that is certainly their decision to make. They know where we stand.”

Beyond financial pressure, the U.S. will work with regional allies to deter Iranian aggression, including ensuring freedom of navigation in the region’s waters, and countering malign cyber activity.

“We will track down Iranian operatives and their Hezbollah proxies operating around the world and we will crush them,” Pompeo warned. “Iran will never again have carte blanche to dominate the Middle East. “

Thirdly, the U.S. will support the Iranian people, he said, referencing the anti-regime protests across the country over recent months, and anti-hijab protests by Iranian women.

In comments directed at the Iranian people, Pompeo challenged the notion that President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif were moderates who were not responsible for the regime’s conduct.

“Here in the West, President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif are often held apart from the regime’s unwise terrorist and malign behavior. They are treated somehow differently,” he said.

“The West says, ‘Boy, if only they could control [supreme leader] Ayatollah Khamenei and [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force commander] Qassem Soleimani then things would be great.’

“Yet, Rouhani and Zarif are your elected leaders,” he continued. “Are they not the most responsible for your economic struggles? Are these two not responsible for wasting Iranian lives throughout the Middle East? “

Asked after the speech about a time frame for the new U.S. policy, Pompeo said he could not give one, but that the Iranian people would ultimately “decide the timeline.”

“At the end of the day, the Iranian people will get to make a choice about their leadership. If they make the decision quickly, that would be wonderful,” he said. “If they choose not to do so, we will stay hard at this until we achieve the outcomes that I set forward today.”

In a response on Twitter to Pompeo’s speech, Zarif dismissed the U.S. approach and said the regime would continue to pursue the JCPOA with the remaining partner countries.

“U.S. diplomacy sham is merely a regression to old habits: imprisoned by delusions & failed policies – dictated by corrupt Special Interest – it repeats the same wrong choices and will thus reap the same ill rewards. Iran, meanwhile, is working with partners for post-U.S. JCPOA solutions.”


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