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Pompeo To Lobby On Iran During His Long Trip To Asia, ME

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) meets wwith Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, June 14, 2018
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) meets wwith Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, June 14, 2018

US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo’s pressure campaign to isolate Tehran has gained momentum ahead of his scheduled visit to United Arab Emirates.

Pompeo will “travel to Abu Dhabi from July 9-10, where he will meet with UAE leaders to discuss ways to further strengthen the US-UAE partnership and advance our common security and economic priorities,” the statement from the State Department read.

Iran, Yemen and the Persian Gulf security are expected to top discussions. UAE’s minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation was in Washington last month and met Mr. Pompeo, but this is the secretary’s first trip to Abu Dhabi since getting appointed in March.

Mr. Pompeo’s stop in UAE is part a long trip that takes him to Pyongyang, Tokyo, Hanoi, Abu Dhabi, and Brussels starting this Thursday and continuing until July 12, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, State Department Director of Policy Planning, Brian Hook reiterated at a news briefing held on July 2 that Pompeo’s aim “is to maximize pressure” on Iran.

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"The Secretary outlined a clear and compelling vision for a better future for the Iranian people. This future can only be realized, though, if Iran meets 12 demands to become a normal country,” Hook noted, adding, “Normal countries don't terrorize other nations, proliferate missiles and impoverish their own people.”

However, Brian Hook insisted, “As Secretary Pompeo has said, this new strategy is not about changing the regime; it is about changing the behavior of the leadership in Iran to comport with what the Iranian people really want them to do."

US is trying to completely stop Tehran exporting oil by urging main buyers of Iranian crude, including China to stop imports.

Retaliating against Washington’s strategy on July 3, President Hassan Rouhani implicitly threatened to disrupt oil shipments from neighboring countries if Washington presses ahead with its goal of forcing all countries to stop buying Iranian oil.

Rouhani’s remarks were immediately praised by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ commander of extraterritorial forces (Qods Force), Major-General Qassem Soleimani.

According to Soleimani, Qods Force “is ready to implement such a policy if needed”.

When asked for comments on Rouhani’s remarks, the State Department’s spokesperson, Heather Nauert said, “We are not in the habit of responding to every single comment made by foreign leaders.”

Nevertheless, based on Brian Hook’s comments, the US strategy against Tehran is not limited to stopping Iran oil exports. Washington has devised a myriad of pressures in different sectors to force the Islamic Republic to “change its behavior”, Hook told reporters.

US sanction will begin to go back into effect on August 4, Hook said, adding, "These sanctions will include targeting Iran's automotive sector, trade in gold and other key metals. Our remaining sanctions will snap back on November 6. "These sanctions will include targeting Iran's energy sector and petroleum-related transactions, and transactions with the Central Bank of Iran."

More than 50 international firms have already announced their intent to leave the Iranian market, particularly in the energy and financial sectors, Hook maintained, adding, “We have been clear with countries and companies around the world that we are bringing severe economic pressure on Iran until the regime changes its destabilizing policies.”

While India and Turkey have explicitly said that they will continue to import Iranian oil, regardless of US new sanctions, Hook said, “We are not looking to grant licenses or waivers, because doing so would substantially reduce pressure on Iran, and this is a campaign of imposing pressure. And so, we are not looking to grant licenses or waivers broadly on the reimposition of sanctions, because we believe pressure is critical to achieve our national security objectives.

We are prepared to work with countries that are reducing their imports on a case-by-case basis, but as with our other sanctions, we are not looking to grant wavers or licenses.”

Responding to China’s position on carrying on its oil deals with Iran, Hook elaborated, “We believe that China and Russia and the other countries who are part of the Iran deal are tired of the terrorism that Iran is causing. They don't support the proliferation of missiles around the Middle East. They don't support just how -- this vast proxy network of terrorism. And so, we believe that most countries around the world share our goals.”

Furthermore, according to Hook, “If you go through the list of the 12 objectives that Secretary Pompeo outlined, those objectives were a global consensus prior to the Iran deal. And so, you've seen China vote repeatedly in a number of U.N. Security Council resolutions [against the Islamic Republic], and those resolutions stated objectives that are perfectly consistent with the 12 objectives that Secretary Pompeo laid out.”