US will crush Iran through sanctions: Pompeo

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Washington, May 21 (IANS) The US will aim to “crush” Iran with economic and military pressure by imposing the “strongest sanctions in history” unless it changes its behaviour in the Middle East, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday.

Pompeo, unveiling the Trump administration’s new policy on Iran just weeks after President Donald Trump dumped the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, said the US will work to counter Tehran’s activities and curb its influence in the Middle East and make sure that it never gains a nuclear weapon, CNN reported.

The top diplomat said that “Iran would be battling to keep its economy alive” after the sanctions take effect. He said he would work closely with the Pentagon and regional allies “to deter any Iranian aggression”.

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“Sanctions are going back in full effect, and new ones are coming,” Pompeo said, adding he will be working with the Defence Department and allies to push back on Iran.

“We will ensure freedom of navigation on the waters in the region. We will work to prevent and counteract any Iranian malign cyber activity. We will track down Iranian operatives and their Hezbollah proxies operating around the world and crush them.

“Iran will never again have carte blanche to dominate the Middle East… The Iranian regime should know this is just the beginning,” he said.

However, in exchange for a change in behaviour, the US would be willing to end sanctions, re-establish commercial relationships and allow Iran to have advanced technology, Pompeo said.

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He also made it clear that the Trump administration was ready to part ways with allies and even use sanctions against them if necessary.

“We understand our re-imposition of sanctions and the coming pressure campaign on the Iranian regime will pose financial and economic difficulties for a number of our friends,” Pompeo said.

“But you should know that we will hold those doing prohibited business in Iran to account.”

Pompeo criticized the nuclear deal for its “fatal flaws” and the Obama administration for pursuing it.

“Strategically, the Obama administration made a bet that the deal would spur Iran to stop its rogue-state actions and conform to international norms… That bet was a loser with massive repercussions for all people living in the Middle East.

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“We will continue to work with our allies to counter the regime’s destabilizing activities in the region, block their financing of terror, and address Iran’s proliferation of missiles and other advanced weapons that threaten peace and stability,” Pompeo said.

–IANS

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