US not ‘afraid to tackle’ Iran regime at ‘highest level’: Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (AP)
Updated 23 July 2018
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US not ‘afraid to tackle’ Iran regime at ‘highest level’: Pompeo

  • The offensive is meant to work in concert with severe economic sanctions that Washington plans to reimpose in the coming months

WASHINGTON: The United States is not afraid to sanction top-ranking leaders of the “nightmare” Iranian regime, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday, pursuing a strategy aimed at Iranian compliance with stringent US demands.
Following Washington’s pullout from the Iran nuclear accord that stunned Washington’s closest European allies, Pompeo on May 21 unveiled the “new strategy” to force Iran’s submission to a dozen demands.
“We weren’t afraid to tackle the regime at its highest level,” Pompeo said in a speech to the Iranian diaspora in California, referring to sanctions leveled in January against Sadeq Larijani, the head of Iran’s judiciary, for human rights violations.
Pompeo also confirmed that Washington wants all countries to reduce their imports of Iranian oil “as close to zero as possible” by November 4, or face American sanctions.
“There’s more to come,” Pompeo said of the US financial penalties.
US President Donald Trump on May 8 decided to restore all the sanctions that had been lifted as part of a multi-national agreement, signed on to by former president Barack Obama’s administration in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program.
The 2015 agreement was in response to fears that Iran was developing a nuclear bomb.
European allies maintain their support for that hard-won deal and are trying all means to save it.
“Regime leaders — especially those at the top of the IRGC and the Quds Force like Qasem Soleimani — must be made to feel painful consequences of their bad decision making,” said Pompeo, a longtime Iran hawk.
He was referring to Iran’s special forces and Revolutionary Guards.
Roundly applauded by his audience, Pompeo affirmed support by Washington for protesters in the Islamic republic.
“The regime in Iran has been a nightmare for the Iranian people,” he said.
Pompeo announced an intensified American propaganda campaign, with the launch of a multimedia channel with 24-hour coverage on television, radio, and social media.
This will ensure that “ordinary Iranians inside Iran and around the globe can know that America stands with them,” he said.
Regularly suspected of favoring regime change in Iran, Pompeo refused to distinguish between moderates and radicals at the heart of the Iranian republic.
“Our hope is that ultimately the regime will make meaningful changes in its behavior both inside Iran and globally,” he said.
Under Washington’s tougher line after withdrawal from the international nuclear accord, Pompeo has said the US would lift its new sanctions if Iran ended its ballistic missile program and interventions in regional conflicts from Yemen to Syria.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has dismissed such threats, saying the rest of the world no longer accepts Washington making decisions on their behalf.
 


No indication North Korea nuclear activities stopped: UN watchdog

Updated 21 August 2018
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No indication North Korea nuclear activities stopped: UN watchdog

  • ‘The continuation and further development of the DPRK’s nuclear program and related statements by the DPRK are a cause for grave concern’
  • The watchdog has stepped up monitoring through open source information and satellite imagery

VIENNA: The UN’s nuclear watchdog said it had not seen any indication that nuclear activities in North Korea have stopped despite its pledges to denuclearize.
“The continuation and further development of the DPRK’s nuclear program and related statements by the DPRK are a cause for grave concern,” said a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), referring to North Korea’s official name.
The report, published late Monday, by the director general of Yukiya Amano is to be submitted to an IAEA board meeting in September.
In 2009 Pyongyang expelled IAEA inspectors from its Yongbyon nuclear site and has since refused to allow IAEA inspections on its territory.
The watchdog has stepped up monitoring through open source information and satellite imagery, it said.
“As the Agency remains unable to carry out verification activities in the DPRK, its knowledge of the DPRK’s nuclear program is limited and, as further nuclear activities take place in the country, this knowledge is declining,” it said.
Between late-April and early-May, there were indications of the operation of the steam plant that serves the radiochemical laboratory at the Yongbyon site, according to the report.
However, the duration of the steam plant’s operation was not sufficient to have supported the reprocessing of a complete core from the experimental nuclear power plant reactor, it added.
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump held a groundbreaking summit in Singapore in June.
At the meeting the pair struck a vague agreement to denuclearize the Korean peninsula, but there has been little movement since.
Before this, Kim met South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April for their first summit. They agreed to push for a declaration of an end to the Korean War this year.