Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated, in an interview with the National at the Fairmont Hotel in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, that “sanctions are returning” on Iran’s banking sector.
The banking sector directly finances the nation’s meddling abroad. New sanctions aim to make it no longer financially feasible for the regime to support its “malign activity” in places like Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Libya.
“Remember the last few years, the sanctions were lifted. And so much of this malign activity, this increase in resources provided to Hizballah, the increase in resources provided to the Shia militias fighting in Iraq and in Syria, the support for the Houthis in Yemen, the efforts in Bahrain, those all took place against the backdrop of a relief from sanctions as a result of agreements that were entered into in the JCPOA,” Pompeo said.
The interview was Pompeo’s first visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since being appointed as President Donald Trump’s Secretary of State.
“America has now withdrawn from those. These sanctions are returning,” Pompeo said. “And I am convinced that the combined effort of the Gulf states and the United States and the Europeans will ultimately achieve a good outcome and convince the Iranian people that this is not the kind of activity their government ought to be involved with.”
President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions on Iran in on May 8 and subsequently withdrew the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran nuclear deal. Last month, Trump threatened to sanction any countries that continue to import oil from Iran beyond November 4.
The move is part of several strategies to weaken Iran’s government and reform the regime’s behavior.
Pompeo noted that achieving the Trump administration’s aim of seeing Iran act like a “normal country” will require a “global effort”: “at the end of the day, it’s going to require a global effort to convince the Iranians that this kind of meddling, this kind of interference, this kind of promotion of violence directed at Arab countries outside of Yemen doesn’t make sense for them.”
In his interview with Pompeo, Mina Al-Oraibi asked the secretary of state if the Trump administration is working on “an alternative deal” to which Pompeo said, “if another deal, it’ll be completely different. It will be of permanent duration and not temporary. It will have a verification regime that is sufficient to ensure that nuclear weapons aren’t being hidden or developed in a clandestine way.”
Iran has been accused of cheating on the nuclear deal and covertly developing nuclear capabilities.
The Islamic Republic has also spent billions of dollars propping up Bashar al-Assad and his regime. Asked by the National if “Assad must go,” Pompeo said:
The first thing that America is working on politically is to reduce the level of violence. We have over six million displaced persons. We have got to restore the opportunity for the Syrian people to begin to engage politically and develop a stable non-violent Syria. At that point, the political decisions, the constitution of Syria, will be sorted by the Syrian people.