The US through its wide range of punitive sanctions is trying to reduce the resources of Iran, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday, asserting that the sanctions are aimed at preventing Tehran from building nuclear weapons and its alleged terrorist activities.
“We are trying to reduce their resources to conduct terror campaigns all around the world, build out their missile systems and their nuclear programme, and we’ve been incredibly effective at that,” Pompeo said in response to a question during his appearance at the Economic Club of Washington, DC.
Referring to the earlier skepticism that American sanctions alone won’t work, he asserted that this has worked. “We have taken over 95 per cent of the crude oil that was being shipped by Iran all around the world, and we have taken it off the market,” he said.
“We have managed both to protect the economic growth that world needs while doing our best to deny resources to the Islamic Republic of Iran regime,” he added.
Tehran has been at loggerheads with Washington since President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran last year and reimposed punishing sanctions which Iran calls "economic terrorism." The standoff has recently escalated with drones shot down and tankers mysteriously attacked in sensitive Gulf waters.
Alleging that the Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, Pompeo said it has the capacity to continue to work towards developing a nuclear weapon system, which would cause proliferation risks all throughout the Middle East.
“We are very concerned about that as well. Our chosen strategy was to take a 180-degree turn from what the previous administration has done. They created opportunity for enormous wealth for the kleptocrats in Iran and for them to underwrite Hizballah, militias in Iraq, the Houthis in Yemen that are even as we speak preparing to continue their attacks on Saudi Arabia,” he said.
“We have decided to go the other way. We are trying to reduce their resources to conduct terror campaigns all around the world, build out their missile systems and their nuclear programme, and we’ve been incredibly effective at that,” Pompeo said.
Responding to a question, Pompeo ruled out putting any timeline to it.
The Iranians, he said, are enriching more than they were under the agreement. “Their temporary reduction in enriched uranium has now ended; they are moving back in the wrong direction.
We’re urging them to think about it. But for us, it’s not about these levels set in the JCPOA,” he said.
“It’s about the capacity to build out a nuclear weapons system in a timeframe that matters to you and your kids and your grandkids. The previous agreement didn’t remotely touch that,” Pompeo said.