A senior Iranian military commander poured scorn on U.S. threats to tighten sanctions yesterday, saying the Islamic Republic's people would respond by punching U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the mouth.
"The people of Iran should stand united in the face of this and they will deliver a strong punch to the mouth of the American Secretary of State and anyone who backs them," Ismail Kowsari, the deputy commander of the Sarollah Revolutionary Guards base in Tehran said, according to the Iranian Labor News Agency, Reuters reported.
Pompeo said Monday Washington would impose new penalties if Tehran did not make sweeping changes, including dropping its nuclear program and pulling out of the Syrian civil war.
Two weeks after President Donald Trump pulled out of an international nuclear deal with Iran, his administration has threatened to impose "the strongest sanctions in history," setting Washington and Tehran further on a course of confrontation.
In his first major foreign policy address since moving to the State Department from the CIA, the longtime Iran hawk and ardent opponent of the 2015 nuclear pact outlined an aggressive series of moves designed to counter Tehran, which he called the world's top sponsor of terror.
"We will apply unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime. The leaders in Tehran will have no doubt about our seriousness," Pompeo said in a speech at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank, as reported by Agence France-Presse (AFP).
"This sting of sanctions will be painful if the regime does not change its course from the unacceptable and unproductive path it has chosen to one that rejoins the league of nations," he said.
Instead of suggesting a re-negotiation of the Iran deal, Pompeo outlined 12 tough conditions from Washington for any "new deal" with Tehran to make sure it "will never again have carte blanche to dominate the Middle East."
These essentially address every aspect of Iran's missile program and what the U.S. calls its "malign influence" across the region, including support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Hezbollah and Huthi rebels in Yemen.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani quickly dismissed the threats, saying the rest of the world no longer accepts Washington making decisions on their behalf. "Who are you to decide for Iran and the world?" Rouhani said in a statement carried by multiple Iranian news agencies. "The world today does not accept that the U.S. decides for the world. Countries have their independence," he added.
The European Union's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini warned there was "no alternative" to the Iran nuclear deal while calling on the U.S. to keep its commitments as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) signed under Trump's predecessor Barack Obama. "Secretary Pompeo's speech has not demonstrated how walking away from the JCPOA has made or will make the region safer from the threat of nuclear proliferation or how it puts us in a better position to influence Iran's conduct in areas outside the scope of JCPOA," she said. Compiled from wires