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Pompeo Says Administration Thinking About 'Snapback' Option Against Iran

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz at the Royal Court in Riyadh, February 20, 2020

In a one-on-one talk with the Washington Free Beacon, the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has outlined the next steps the Trump administration will be taking to confront "Tehran's growing influence in key Arab nations", including Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen.

"The Trump administration is waging a multi-pronged effort to thwart Iran's expansion across the Middle East, including efforts at the United Nations to ensure global sanctions come back into effect in what would mark a final death blow for the landmark nuclear deal," the Washington Free Beacon cited Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as saying .

The exclusive interview was conducted on Friday, immediately after Pompeo's high-level meetings with the Saudi Arabia royal family in Riyadh.

In the coming months, Pompeo said he and President Trump will make a major decision about whether to petition the U.N. to invoke what is known as "snapback" on a set of international sanctions on Iran that were lifted as part of the Obama administration's nuclear accord.

"Iran hawks in Congress have been pressing Pompeo and the administration to pursue this course of action for months, a message the secretary says he has received and is digging into. Such a move would deal a deathblow to the nuclear deal," Free Beacon reports.

However, President Trump has yet to make an ultimate decision on snapback at the U.N., Pompeo asserted.

Earlier in Riyadh, Pompeo and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman had discussed "threats from Iran," the Saudi-led war in Yemen, the situation in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, and the need for a regional unity, an apparent reference to the political impasse between Qatar and its Arab neighbors in the Persian Gulf.

While in Riyadh, Pompeo assured Prince Muhammad bin Salman that the United States stands with Saudi Arabia in the face of Iranian threats, the State Department said.

Pompeo also tweeted last Friday that "Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud and I discussed the ongoing threat posed by the Iranian regime."

The tension between Tehran and Washington has been rising since May 2018, when President Trump dropped the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or Tehran nuclear deal with world powers and reimposed a wide range of sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Exactly a year later, the tension intensified when Iran declared that it was starting to end its commitments under the JCPOA gradually. It also set a two-month deadline for the European signatories to the nuclear deal to ensure Tehran's interests protected in the agreement.

The European partners in the JCPOA, France, Germany, and the U.K. have so far failed to meet Tehran's demands.

In the meantime, President Trump has repeatedly voiced his readiness for a new round of negotiations with Iran.

President Hassan Rouhani, for his part, has repeatedly said Tehran would not relent to talks under Washington's sanctions.

The Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has gone even further, and noted, "Talking to Americans is a lethal poison, and talking to the Trump Administration is twice as lethal."

While Secretary Pompeo is talking about the possibility of referring the Islamic Republic's case to the United Nations, six Senators have introduced a new proposal to urge Tehran and Washington to return to their commitments under the 2015 JCPOA.

On February 19, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced the proposal under the title "Iran Diplomacy Act."

According to the draft, "the United States should not seek to 'snap back' United Nations Security Council Sanctions [on the Islamic Republic] as that right should be reserved for current parties to the JCPOA."