Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo Has 12 Demands For A New Deal To Counter Iran

May 21, 2018
Originally published on May 21, 2018 8:02 pm
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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has a long list of demands for Iran. Many countries are still angry that the U.S. has pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, but Pompeo thinks allies will come around. Today he laid out a strategy to squeeze Iran until it changes its behavior. Here's NPR's Michele Kelemen.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: The way Mike Pompeo sees it, the Obama administration made a losing bet with Iran, hoping the nuclear deal would spur the Iranians to be better actors in the region. Instead, he says, Iran has been using the economic benefits of the deal to expand its influence, and the Trump administration says no more.

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MIKE POMPEO: No more wealth creation for Iranian kleptocrats. No more acceptance of missiles landing in Riyadh and in the Golan Heights. No more cost-free expansions of Iranian power.

KELEMEN: The U.S. is reimposing sanctions that will likely sink the deal which offered sanctions relief in exchange for limits to Iran's nuclear program. While Pompeo says he knows the Europeans may try to keep the deal going, the U.S. is determined to starve Iran of cash.

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POMPEO: The sting of sanctions will be painful if the regime does not change its course from the unacceptable and unproductive path it has chosen to one that rejoins the League of Nations. These will indeed end up being the strongest sanctions in history when we are complete.

KELEMEN: A former Obama administration official Jake Sullivan has his doubts that the U.S. can just, in his words, beat everyone else over the head to get them to go along with sanctions.

JAKE SULLIVAN: The Trump administration is taking a big gamble that it can do this while alienating its allies and partners and still succeed. And I do not think that gamble will pay off.

KELEMEN: Sullivan also didn't hear much of a diplomatic strategy in Pompeo's speech at the Heritage Foundation. Instead, the secretary laid out 12 demands. Iran must stop its uranium enrichment and give inspectors unqualified access to all sites in the country. Iran must end its support for Hezbollah, Hamas, Houthis rebels in Yemen and withdraw from Syria. And the list goes on, says Sullivan now at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

SULLIVAN: What they're laying out is not a diplomatic deal. It is outright surrender, if not abdication of power, by the current regime. Just to read that list is to see that diplomacy is not a serious part of this strategy.

KELEMEN: U.K. foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, says he finds the idea of what he calls a jumbo Iran treaty very difficult. Secretary Pompeo believes the U.S. demands are not unreasonable, though he does seem to be pinning his hopes on regime change in Iran.

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POMPEO: 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. If they choose not to do so, we will stay hard at this until we achieve the outcomes that I set forward today.

KELEMEN: Another Iran watcher at Carnegie, Karim Sadjadpour, thinks the Trump administration is unrealistic about the pace of change in Iran.

KARIM SADJADPOUR: I do think Iranians want fundamental change, but they're not willing to risk their lives in the process that Syrians and Libyans and Yemenis have.

KELEMEN: And he fears that the U.S. talk of regime change could backfire.

SADJADPOUR: There's a danger that - by overtly calling for regime change in Iran - the Trump administration will actually entrench these very hard-line forces in Iran and give them a pretext to be even more repressive.

KELEMEN: Sadjadpour adds that this new administration's strategy is at odds with what President Trump has been saying - that he wants to get out of the Middle East and out of the regime change business. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, the State Department.

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