JEDDAH: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday urged European nations to get behind American measures to cut Iran off from the world energy markets.
“Iran continues to send weapons across the Middle East, in blatant violation of UN Security Council resolutions,” he said during talks in Brussels.
“Iran’s regime wants to start trouble wherever it can. It’s our responsibility to stop it. ”
Pompeo also posted a message on Twitter, saying: “It’s time to face the facts about #Iran’s malevolent regime.”
Also on Thursday, President Donald Trump warned of an unspecified “escalation” between the US and Iran.
“I would say there might be an escalation between us and the Iranians,” Trump said during a news conference in Brussels. He added that Iran’s economic troubles would force the country to seek a security deal with Washington as a result of his withdrawal from the nuclear pact.
“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,” said Trump. “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.”
Experts have welcomed the increased US pressure on Europe over Iran.
Oubai Shahbandar, a Syrian-American analyst and fellow at the New America Foundation’s International Security Program, said Iran’s energy exports depend heavily on European and Asian customers.
“If the EU complies with American sanctions and halts investments, as well as significantly curtailing Iranian oil imports, it is difficult to see how Iran’s economy can survive such international isolation,” he said.
Harvard scholar and Iranian affairs expert Dr. Majid Rafizadeh said that in the short term, some European powers will continue attempts to salvage their business deals with Iran, as well as the nuclear deal.
“Nevertheless, in the long term Europe will more likely join its old transatlantic partner in containing the Iranian regime and countering its threats,” he added.
“For Europe, the costs of dealing with the Iranian regime considerably outweigh the benefits. The EU has no common interests with the top state sponsor of terrorism, the Iranian regime. From geopolitical, strategical, military, security and economic landscapes, the EU-US relationship is significantly greater than EU-Iran ties.”