U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Washington will impose "the strongest sanctions in history [on Iran] once they come into full force" and that the "sting of sanctions will only grow more painful if the regime does not change its course."
Pompeo set 12 conditions for Iran to follow in order for the United States to agree to a new nuclear deal with Tehran in a speech in Washington on May 21 at the Heritage Foundation think tank.
His speech comes almost two weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump said Washington was withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers.
Pompeo said the deal was a "loser" that had "huge negative repercussions," adding that Iran had "advanced its march across the Middle East" since the signing of the 2015 deal.
He said the sanctions will apply "unprecedented financial pressure" on Iran, which he called the world's leading sponsor of terrorism. "The authorities in Iran will have no doubt" about our determiniation, he said.
Pompeo said Iran will be "battling to keep its economy alive" under the sanctions and will have to choose between maintaining its economy or sponsoring terrorist and insurgent groups in countries like Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen; what he called "squandering precious wealth on fights abroad." "It will not have the money to do both."
He blamed the money that the Iranian government received after sanctions ended as a "newfound treasure" that it used to sponsor those groups.
"We will track down Iranian operatives and their Hizballah proxies operating around the world and crush them," Pompeo said.
Pompeo said if Iran makes "major changes," the U.S. would be willing to lift all sanctions. He did not give a timetable for when the sanctions would be imposed.
Among the demands he made, Pompeo said Iran must "stop the enrichment" of uranium, which was allowed within strict limitations under the nuclear deal. He said Iran must also allow nuclear monitors have "unqualified access to all sites throughout the country," in a reference to several military sites that were off-limits under the JCPOA under specific circumstances.
Iran must also declare all of its previous efforts to build a nuclear weapon, Pompeo said, reopening an issue that the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency has already deemed closed.
The United States will also demand that Iran cease its support for Shi'ite Huthi rebels in Yemen, "withdraw all forces" from Syria, halt support for Hizballah in Lebanon, and to stop "threatening" Israel.
Iran must also "release all U.S. citizens" missing in Iran or being held on "spurious charges," he said. Pompeo also offered Iran a series of potential U.S. concessions. Under a new agreement with Iran, the U.S. would be willing to lift all sanctions, restore diplomatic and commercial ties with Tehran, and even support modernizing its economy, he said.
"It is America's hope that our labors toward peace and security will bear fruit for the long-suffering people of Iran," Pompeo said.
In defending Trump's decision to leave the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, Pompeo said it "failed to secure the safety of the American people." He listed the problems with the JCPOA as having "weak sunset provisions" that would allow Iran to make a "quick sprint to the bomb" once they kicked in that would set off an arms race for a nuclear weapon.
Pompeo said Iranian officials had negotiated in "bad faith" in obtaining the deal because "Iran has lied for years about having a nuclear weapons program." He also criticized the nuclear deal because it did not address Iran's ballistic- and cruise-missile programs.
Pompeo said the windfall that Iran received after signing the JCPOA allowed it to arm the Lebanese-based Shi'a militia group Hizballah "to the teeth," saying that the group "has its sights set on Israel."
The U.S.'s top diplomat added that Iran has been able since ageeing to the nuclear deal to "prop up the murderous [Bashar al-]Assad regime" in Syria and to sponsor Shi'a forces in Iraq.
He also said Iran is fueling the Huthi uprising in Yemen and that Tehran's Quds Force is conducting "covert assassinations in the heart of Europe." Pompeo criticized Iran for detaining and jailing several U.S. citizens but added that the Trump administration is "working dilligently to bring every home American unlawfully kept in Iran."
He said the United States will "continue to work with allies to block the financing of terror [by Iran]" and ensure that "Iran has no path to a nuclear weapon -- not now, not ever."
Pompeo said that if Iran decides to restart its nuclear program that was halted by the JCPOA, "it will have problems like it never experienced before." Trump has long said the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran -- also signed by the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia -- did not go far enough.
"In the strategy we are announcing today, we want the support of our most important allies and partners in the region and around the globe," said Pompeo, "I don't just mean our friends in Europe."
The EU is trying to persuade Iran to stay in the 2015 agreement without Washington's participation. Pompeo also warned European businesses who have signed business deals in recent years to work with Iran that if they are in violation of U.S. sanctions they will be held "to account."
The U.S. Treasury has put European businesses on notice that they have 90 days to wrap up most business with Iran before the renewed U.S. sanctions take effect. European leaders are now mulling ways to avoid renewed U.S. sanctions on Iran and soften their impact on European firms doing business with the country.
On May 18, the European Commission proposed to let EU members make payments for oil directly to the Iranian central bank to bypass U.S. sanctions.