BBC News: US vows 'strongest sanctions in history' on Iran

So, so many are quick to say President Donald Trump made a awful error in withdrawing from the 2015 Iranian nuclear accord, and some doubts are understandable even as the definitive harrumph is nonsense.

The Administration did hold out the option of full diplomatic and commercial reconciliation with the Islamic Republic-if it agreed to all twelve demands for "tangible, demonstrated, and sustained shifts" in policies.

Pompeo said the new sanctions are "just the beginning" of the pressure campaign and the sting "will only grow more painful" if the regime does not change course. Pompeo further called on Iran to halt its ballistic missile program.

The deal was agreed between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, UK, France, China and Russian Federation - plus Germany. He said Iran would "allow for this era of extremism to pass".

Under the 2015 deal with six world powers - China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the U.S. and Germany, as well as the European Union - Iran scaled back its enrichment of uranium and vowed not to pursue nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief. Iran would also have to walk away from core pillars of its foreign policy, including its involvement in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Afghanistan.

Critics may charge that this "policy" is impossible - a diplomatic smokescreen meant to cloak a policy whose fundamental goal is regime change in Iran. The Europeans are searching for ways to protect their own companies from sanctions that Trump reimposed, though some big multinational firms already were avoiding business in Iran due to the uncertainty over the deal's fate.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) saw Iran agree to limit the size of its stockpile of enriched uranium - which is used to make reactor fuel but also nuclear weapons - for 15 years and the number of centrifuges installed to enrich uranium for 10 years.

Maas said he will travel to Washington to talk with Pompeo this week.

The prospect of Iran acceding to all twelve demands, Sherman added, "is virtually zero".

Most Iranians believe the nuclear issue is only an excuse to attack Iran. "People, I think, are overstating the disagreements between the USA and Europe". The secretary said the administration ultimately wants a ratified treaty.

The secretary also made an explicit appeal to the Iranian people.

Those moves to save the deal indicate the Europeans would be reluctant to join a coalition with the U.S.to negotiate a new deal. "It's his infantile approach to foreign policy that purports to solve intractable challenges through the application of maximalist pressure". Thousands more attended Friday prayers in Tehran to hear hardline leaders denounce Trump's actions.

The speech lacked specifics in many areas, namely how the Administration will mobilize key players in the global economy to side with it in punishing Iran.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also criticised the US. And sanctions can only work if truly global.

In Tehran, the foreign minister replied to Pompeo's speech on Twitter. But the challenges that the accord faces have grown since Trump withdrew the United States from it on May 8th.

Pompeo also cautioned European firms against continuing to do business in Tehran, toughening up the USA policy line after its withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear pact this month despite intense diplomatic efforts by Washington's European allies.

Pompeo said he will work with the Defense Department and regional allies - a group that includes Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States - to "deter Iranian aggression in the region, including at sea and in cyberspace". Pompeo on Monday took the first step in trying to restore them.

  • Wendy Palmer