Pompeo vows to slap 'strongest sanctions in history' on Iran

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Monday that the United States would impose "the strongest sanctions in history" against Iran if it did not agree to change course.

"We will apply unprecedented financial pressure on the regime," Pompeo said in his first major foreign policy address, delivered at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "The leaders in Tehran will have no doubt about our seriousness."

Pompeo outlined an alternate path: Reprieve from sanctions and restoration of full diplomatic and economic relations should Iran meet a list of 12 demands aimed at the heart of Iran's foreign policy agenda.

Among other things, Iran must end all military aspects of its nuclear program, stop uranium enrichment, completely withdraw from Syria and end support for terrorist groups, Pompeo said. Pompeo also demanded the release all U.S. citizens and those of U.S. partners and allies "detained on spurious charges or missing in Iran."

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., holds a meeting with CIA Director nominee Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., in his Capitol office on Monday, Dec. 5, 2016.

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Mike Pompeo (L) is sworn in as CIA Director by Vice President Mike Pence (R) as wife Susan Pompeo (2nd L) looks on at Eisenhower Executive Office Building January 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. Pompeo was confirmed for the position by the Senate this evening.

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UNITED STATES - JUNE 28: Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., right, chairman of the Select Committee on Benghazi, conducts a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center, June 28, 2016, to announce the Committee's report on the 2012 attacks in Libya that killed four Americans. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., also appears. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Representative Mike Pompeo, a Republican from Kansas and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director nominee for President-elect Donald Trump, swears in to a Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. Pompeo is seeking to reassure senators that he can shift from an outspoken policymaker to an objective spy chief if confirmed.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., holds a meeting with CIA Director nominee Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., in his Capitol office on Monday, Dec. 5, 2016.

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Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS) arrives to testify before a Senate Intelligence hearing on his nomination of to be become director of the CIA at Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 12, 2017.

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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (R) finishes swearing in Mike Pompeo, flanked by his wife Susan Pompeo, to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the vice president's ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 23, 2017.

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Mike Pompeo gets a hug from supporter Jennifer O'Connor after arriving at the Sedgwick County Republican headquarters at Market Centre in Wichita, Kansas, on Tuesday, November 6, 2012.

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Adam Schiff (D-CA) left, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) center, and moderator Chuck Todd, right, appear on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015.

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U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for the director of the CIA, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) attends his confirmation hearing before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee on January 12, 2017 in Washington, DC. Mr. Pompeo is a former Army officer who graduated first in his class from West Point.

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Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) listens as Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) speaks during his confirmation hearing to be the director of the CIA before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee on January 12, 2017 in Washington, DC. Mr. Pompeo is a former Army officer who graduated first in his class from West Point.

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Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., speaks during the news conference before a group of House Republican freshmen walked to the Senate to deliver a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday, March 30, 2011. The letter called on the Senate to pass a long term continuing resolution with spending cuts.

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US Congressman Mike Pompeo (C), R-Kansas, sits in the dark after a power failure with US Senator Pat Roberts (L), a former Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and former US Senator Bob Dole (R), R-Kansas, as he prepares to testify before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, January 12, 2017, on his nomination to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the Trump administration.

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Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., center, nominee for director of the Central Intelligence Agency, is introduced by former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., right, and Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., during Pompeo's Senate Select Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building, January 12, 2017. The hearing was moved from Hart Building due to a peer outage.

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Incoming Trump administration cabinet secretary nominees including Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson (L-R), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director nominee Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary nominee James Mattis arrive for meetings at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 13, 2017.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Mike Pompeo (2nd L), flanked by his wife Susan Pompeo (2nd R) and their son Nick Pompeo (R), signs his affidavit of appointment after being sworn in as director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (L) in Pence's ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

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"While to some, the changes in Iranian behavior we seek may seem unrealistic, we should recall that what we are pursuing was the global consensus before the JCPOA," said Pompeo, a reference to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal adopted under the Obama administration. "We are not asking anything other than Iranian behavior that is consistent with global norms and the elimination of its capacity to threaten our world with its nuclear activities."

The Trump administration ended U.S. participation in the JCPOA — an agreement that also includes Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China as signatories — earlier this month after concerted efforts by European partners to salvage the deal.

"I have spent a great deal of time with our allies in the past week and they may try to keep the old nuclear deal going with Tehran. That is their decision to make," Pompeo said. "They know where we stand."

Now, the secretary says the U.S. is pursuing a bigger Iran deal with a broader international coalition, asking for the support of U.S. allies beyond Europe, such as Australia, Japan, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.

"I think if you try now to fold all those issues — ballistic missiles, Iran's behavior, Iran's disruptive activity in the region, nuclear activity — if you try to pull all of those into a giant negotiation, a new jumbo Iran negotiation, a new treaty," said U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Monday, "I don't see that being very easy to achieve in anything like a reasonable timescale."

Pompeo said the timeline for change is up to the Iranian people.

"At the end of the day the Iranian people get to make a choice about their leadership," Pompeo said in response to a question from the audience. "If they make the decision quickly that would be wonderful, if they choose not to do so, we will stay hard at this until reaching the outcome I set forward."

The Pentagon also seemed to suggest a more aggressive policy on confronting Iran Monday, saying that they would "double down" on actions to confront Iran's "malign influence" in the region.

"We are going to take steps necessary to address Iran's influence in the region," Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters. "It is a whole of government approach."

Manning did not outline concrete steps that the Pentagon might take, however.

"It's on the table. We are not going to rule out anything," he said.

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