Setting up a new level of hostility toward Iran after the US withdrew from the P5+1 nuclear deal, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo promised “unprecedented financial pressure” Monday in comments to the Heritage Foundation. He said the US would impose the “strongest sanctions in history” against the Iranians.
The justification for this was a vague mention of Iran being a “malign influence,” and false allegations that they have “nuclear ambitions,” despite Iran still being a part of a nuclear deal which limits them to only a very small civilian nuclear program.
Pompeo said sanctions are in full effect and more are coming. He further issued a broad string of demands on the Iranians. This included withdrawing all forces from Syria, and totally ending support for both Hezbollah and Hamas.
Asking Iran to withdraw all “forces” from Syria is likely not possible for them to comply with, as US officials have generally presented Shi’ite militias who aren’t from Iran in the first place as “Iranian controlled” force. Iran could no more expel these Shi’ites from Syria than the US could remove all Kurdish forces from Syria.
Whether the demands are reasonable, or practical, is neither here nor there anyhow. That’s because Pompeo is not suggesting that compliance with all of these demands would mean an end to sanctions. Even if he did, the US just got done reneging on sanctions relief toward Iran with the nuclear deal.
The Trump Administration wanted out of the nuclear deal to start ratcheting up sanctions, which they see as an end unto themselves. Having done so, Pompeo is just bragging about how great those sanctions will be, not implying that there is any way to avoid them.