United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened Monday to impose the "strongest sanctions in history" against Iran if it did not accept a series of demands from the Donald Trump administration, which includes effectively give up nuclear power initiatives and its conventional ballistic missile program.
Weeks after the Americans pulled out of an international nuclear deal with Iran, Pompeo spelled out a hardline approach towards the Islamic Republic, potentially setting Washington and Tehran on course for further confrontation.
"The sting of sanctions will only grow more painful if the regime does not change course from the unacceptable and unproductive path it has chosen for itself and the people of Iran," Pompeo said in his first major foreign policy speech since becoming secretary of state.
"These will be the strongest sanctions in history by the time we are done," he added.
Pompeo also claimed Iran's policy of expanding its influence in the Middle East through support for some countries such as Syria and Yemen where the U.S. has also sort to extend their influence was unacceptable.
He warned that the United States would "crush" Iranian operatives and allies abroad and told Tehran to withdraw all forces under its command from the Syrian civil war where they back President Bashar al-Assad.
Iran is unlikely to accede to the U.S. demands. The tension between the two countries has grown notably since U.S. President Trump; this month withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement aimed at preventing Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Pompeo warned that if Iran fully resumed its nuclear program, Washington would be ready to respond and said the administration would hold companies doing prohibited business in Iran to account.
"Our demands on Iran are not unreasonable: give up your program," Pompeo said, "Should they choose to go back, should they begin to enrich, we are fully prepared to respond to that as well," he said, declining to elaborate.