London, 6 July – According to a statement from the State Department, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo will “travel to Abu Dhabi from July 9-10, where he will meet with UAE leaders to discuss ways to further strengthen the US-UAE partnership and advance our common security and economic priorities.”
Expected discussion will include the US pressure campaign on Iran, its role in Yemen, and Persian Gulf security. UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation met Pompeo in Washington last month, but this is the secretary’s first trip to Abu Dhabi as Secretary of State.
Reuters reports that Pompeo will also visit Pyongyang, Tokyo, Hanoi, Abu Dhabi, and Brussels, in a tour beginning on Thursday and continuing until July 12th.
At a news briefing held on July 2nd, Brian Hook, State Department Director of Policy Planning, confirmed a that Pompeo’s aim “is to maximize pressure” on Iran. “The Secretary outlined a clear and compelling vision for a better future for the Iranian people. This future can only be realized, though, if Iran meets 12 demands to become a normal country,” Hook said, adding, “Normal countries don’t terrorize other nations, proliferate missiles and impoverish their own people.” Hook continued, “As Secretary Pompeo has said, this new strategy is not about changing the regime; it is about changing the behavior of the leadership in Iran to comport with what the Iranian people really want them to do.”
In a move to stop exports of Iran’s oil, the US has urged buyers of Iranian crude, including China, to stop imports.
However, on July 3rd, President Hassan Rouhani threatened to disrupt oil shipments from neighboring countries if Washington presses ahead with its goal.
Rouhani’s remarks were immediately praised by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ commander of extraterritorial forces (Qods Force), Major-General Qassem Soleimani, who said that the Qods Force “is ready to implement such a policy if needed.”
State Department spokesperson, Heather Nauert commented on Rouhani’s remarks, “We are not in the habit of responding to every single comment made by foreign leaders.”
The US strategy against Tehran is not limited to stopping Iran oil exports, but has devised pressures in different sectors to force the Islamic Republic to “change its behavior”, Hook told reporters.
On August 4th, US sanctions will begin to go back into effect. Hook said, “These sanctions will include targeting Iran’s automotive sector, trade in gold and other key metals. Our remaining sanctions will snap back on November 6th. These sanctions will include targeting Iran’s energy sector and petroleum-related transactions, and transactions with the Central Bank of Iran.”
At least 50 international firms have announced their intent to leave the Iranian market, many of them in the energy and financial sectors. Hook explained, “We have been clear with countries and companies around the world that we are bringing severe economic pressure on Iran until the regime changes its destabilizing policies.”
India and Turkey have said that they plan to continue to import Iranian oil, regardless of the US new sanctions. Hook said, “We are not looking to grant licenses or waivers, because doing so would substantially reduce pressure on Iran, and this is a campaign of imposing pressure. And so, we are not looking to grant licenses or waivers broadly on the reimposition of sanctions, because we believe pressure is critical to achieve our national security objectives. We are prepared to work with countries that are reducing their imports on a case-by-case basis, but as with our other sanctions, we are not looking to grant wavers or licenses.”
China also plans to carry on its oil deals with Iran. Hook said, “We believe that China and Russia and the other countries who are part of the Iran deal are tired of the terrorism that Iran is causing. They don’t support the proliferation of missiles around the Middle East. They don’t support just how — this vast proxy network of terrorism. And so, we believe that most countries around the world share our goals.”
“If you go through the list of the 12 objectives that Secretary Pompeo outlined, those objectives were a global consensus prior to the Iran deal. And so, you’ve seen China vote repeatedly in a number of U.N. Security Council resolutions [against the Islamic Republic], and those resolutions stated objectives that are perfectly consistent with the 12 objectives that Secretary Pompeo laid out,” according to Hook.