The US secretary of state has called on European allies to take a harsher stance against Iran, which he accused of violating UN resolutions, as some of Tehran’s biggest oil customers appear to be succumbing to the US pressure.
Mike Pompeo sent out two tweets on Thursday in which he accused the country of violating UN Security Council resolutions and sending weapons across the Middle East.
He called on European leaders to follow the US in increasing economic pressure on the country.
“We must cut off all funding the regime uses to fund terrorism & proxy wars. There’s no telling when Iran may try to foment terrorism, violence & instability in one of our countries next,” Pompeo wrote in the tweet.
#Iran continues to send weapons across the Middle East, in blatant violation of #UN Security Council resolutions. Iran’s regime wants to start trouble wherever it can. It’s our responsibility to stop it. pic.twitter.com/bJHCCbKb0h
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) July 12, 2018
We ask our allies & partners to join our economic pressure campaign against #Iran’s regime. We must cut off all funding the regime uses to fund terrorism & proxy wars. There’s no telling when Iran may try to foment terrorism, violence & instability in one of our countries next. pic.twitter.com/XHxd3EPaBP
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) July 12, 2018
Trump on Thursday said that Iran has started to treat the US with “much more respect” after new sanctions were put in place.
“They’re treating us with much more respect right now than they did in the past and I know they’re having a lot of problems and their economy is collapsing,” Trump said at a news conference in Brussels after attending a contentious NATO summit.
“But I will tell you this, at a certain point, they’re going to call me and they’re going to say ‘Let’s make a deal,’ and we’ll make a deal.′ But they’re feeling a lot of pain right now”.
In the deal, Iran was expected to scale back its uranium enrichment programme and promised not to pursue nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief.
Following the withdrawal, the EU, Britain, France and Germany have repeatedly said they reaffirmed their support “to the continued full and effective implementation of the JCPOA by all sides”.
However, Trump has since urged countries that trade with Iran to find alternate suppliers or be subjected to sanctions, too.
Last week, the US said that the goal of the was to get as many countries as possible down to zero Iranian oil imports.
“Our goal is to increase pressure on the Iranian regime by reducing to zero its revenue on crude oil sales,” State Department Director of Policy Planning Brian Hook.
In June, oil imports from Iran to India went from more than 705,000 barrels down to almost 593,000 barrels per day, a decrease of 16 percent, according to the Reuters news agency.
Meanwhile, oil imports from the US have steadily been climbing this year. In the first six months of this year, the amount of oil imported from the US is almost double that of the whole of 2017, Times of India reported.
To make up for losses suffered as a result of the US sanctions, Iran is looking at other countries as potential export partners.
On Wednesday, Iran and Russia announced a deal up to $50bn in Iran’s oil sector.
In advance of the meeting between Russia and Iran, an Iranian foreign office spokesman said that the visit was in line with Tehran’s diplomatic outreach after the US pulled out of the nuclear deal.
“After Donald Trump’s strategic mistake to exit the multilateral and international accord, the JCPOA, the Islamic Republic of Iran decided to dispatch a number of its special representatives to other countries,” Mehr news agency quoted Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi before the meeting in Moscow.
According to the same report, Russian imports from Iran have increased significantly in the four months of 2018, up 36 percent from the year before.
Both Iran and Russia – who have been militarily involved in Syria – expect trade between the countries to increase even more in the coming years.
Responding to the US sanctions and threats, Iranian officials have also threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, one of the most important oil transit points in the world.
The strait is not only used by Iranian ships, but also by Gulf countries who rely on safe passage through the narrow chokepoint to export their oil and gas.
Following the remarks by Iran, the US military promised to keep Gulf waterways open to oil tankers.
Last week, Captain Bill Urban, a spokesman for the US military’s Central Command, told the Associated Press news agency on Wednesday that US sailors and its regional allies “stand ready to ensure the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce wherever international law allows”.