Washington: The United States has warned of having a fundamentally different set of rules to deal with the countries continuing to have economic activities with Iran after its sanction against Tehran becomes fully operational on November 4.
“Make no mistake about it, come November 4 (and) there will be a fundamentally different set of rules with respect to anyone who deems it necessary to engage in economic activities with the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters at a news conference in Washington on Friday.
In the absence of any waiver or concession from the Trump administration, it could have major implications for India, which is one of the biggest importers of Iranian oil and is currently developing the strategic Chabahar port.
Officials of the two countries are having an ongoing discussion on both the issues. This includes the meeting between the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department. The meeting took place immediately after Pompeo’s press conference.
“There are still a number of decisions pending before the November 4 deadline that we’ve got to make about waivers or potential waivers, and we’re working our way through each of them,” Pompeo said.
India is one of the countries which is likely to get some waiver, given the strategic nature of Indo-US ties, the strategic importance of the Chabahar port and its burgeoning energy needs.
India, on its part has already started reducing its oil intake from Iran, but is unlikely to bring it down to zero.
“You can see many countries already taking actions to move out of Iran, to discontinue doing business with them in advance of the November 4 deadline,” Pompeo said in response to a question, adding these countries understand the seriousness of the US sanctions.
Pompeo said they also appreciate that trading with Iran is “supporting the exact kinds of malign activity that President Donald Trump has been talking about since the first day he took office.”
The various “malign activities” that the US Secretary of State listed included alleged supply of missiles by Iran to Houthis to launch into Gulf countries airports.
These activities further included “the activities we have seen taken by Shia militias against American interests or the assassination efforts underway in the heart of Europe,” said Pompeo.
The world is beginning to see that the challenge is much bigger than anything that the JCPOA even pretended to have addressed, he said.
Pompeo said he has also seen the statements “the Iranians have said this week.”
They’ve said, boy, if we end up withdrawing, we’ll start from a much higher level. I may have the quote off just a little bit but I’m very close. Wow, what does that say about the existence of the agreement, right?
“They’re going to start from a much higher level. It tells you that the agreement itself didn’t stop all the paths to nuclear weapons in the way that it was sold to the American people,” he said.
During the news conference, Pompeo slammed the former Secretary of State John Kerry for having talks with the Iranian leadership.
“What Secretary Kerry has done is unseemly and unprecedented. This is a former secretary of state engaged with the world’s largest state sponsor of terror. He was talking to them. He was telling them to wait out this administration,” Pompeo said.
“You can’t find precedent for this in US history, and Secretary Kerry ought not to engage in that kind of behavior. It’s inconsistent with what foreign policy of the United States is, as directed by this President, and it is beyond inappropriate for him to be engaged in this,” he said.
“I wasn’t in the meeting, but I am reasonably confident that he was not there in support of the US policy with respect to the Islamic Republic of Iran, who this week fired Katyusha rockets toward the United States embassy in Baghdad and took action against our consulate in Basra,” Pompeo said.