Pompeo waging psychological warfare to undermine Iran's economy: former official

Pompeo had on Monday issued a severe warning to Iran, saying Washington would be ready to impose the "strongest sanctions in history" if it does not alter its regional policies.

"Any time sanctions are put in place, countries have to give up economic activity", Pompeo said.

He warned that "without this agreement we could run the risk that Iran could restart a nuclear program".

The Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif said the USA was a prisoner of its "failed policies" and would suffer the consequences European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Pompeo had not demonstrated how abandoning the deal made the region safer from nuclear proliferation.

"The people of Iran should stand united in the face of this and they will deliver a strong punch to the mouth of the American Secretary of State and anyone who backs them", said Ismail Kowsari, according to Reuters.

"Who are you to decide for Iran and the world?", Rouhani was quoted saying by the Iranian news agency ILNA.

The administration billed the speech, Pompeo's first policy address as secretary of state, as an articulation of Trump's new strategy toward Iran less than a month after he ignored the pleas of USA allies and withdrew from the nuclear accord.

Limiting Iran's missile capabilities was one of Pompeo's main demands, as the Iranian military has carried out a series of ballistic missile tests in recent years.

US President Donald Trump's newly installed top diplomat also hinted at the possibility of military action should Iranian leaders reconstitute their nuclear program.

European allies alarmed by Pompeo speech laying out US demands on Iran

He further said Tehran should stop threatening Israel, and release all US citizens in Iranian custody. He called for a new coalition of the "Australians, Bahrainis, Indians, Japanese, Omanis" and others to mount pressure on Iran.

"Pompeo has not outlined a strategy, but rather a grab bag of wishful thinking that can only be interpreted as a call for regime change in Iran", said Suzanne Maloney, an Iran expert at the Brookings Institution. He said Iran would "allow for this era of extremism to pass".

It was a pointed response to Mr Pompeo, who issued a list of 12 demands addressing Iran's policies in the Middle East and its ballistic missile programme following the unilateral U.S. withdrawal from a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

"The JCPOA is the result of more than a decade of complex and delicate negotiations, based on dual track approach and therefore the best possible outcome, striking the right balance", Mogherini said. "But you should know that we will hold those doing prohibited business in Iran to account". "But not its actions which jeopardize the world's citizens".

Trump wants Brussels and others to support his hardline strategy and push for a fresh agreement.

"We welcome any nation which is sick and exhausted of the nuclear threats, the terrorism, the missile proliferation and the brutality of a regime at peace with inflicting chaos on innocent people", he said.

The address comes as Trump focuses on a related gambit with nuclear-armed North Korea.

Responding to a U.S. demand to end its intervention in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Afghanistan and to cease its uranium enrichment, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani attacked the Trump administration Monday.

"The West often treats President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif as "apart" from the regime's unwise, terrorist, and malign behaviours", Pompeo said, speaking directly to the Iranian people.

  • Kyle Peterson