US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has threatened Iran with the strongest sanctions in history if the country refuses to stop enrichment of uranium, and allow nuclear inspectors unqualified access to all sites throughout the country.
The threat comes just after President Donald Trump announced that he would withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear agreement, which he deemed flawed because it did not keep Iran from testing ballistic missiles and would eventually expire.
Mr Trump also argued that Iran was not in compliance with the basic goal of the deal to restrict Iran from enriching weapons grade uranium even though the US State Department and the International Atomic Energy Agency had both confirmed compliance repeatedly. The deal was not intended to address ballistic missile development.
Following that announcement earlier this month, Mr Pompeo has demanded major changes from Iran, and has vowed that the country will not develop a nuclear weapon: Not now, not ever.
This is just the beginning, Mr Pompeo said on Monday of the sanctions that are set to go back into effect now that the US is withdrawing from the deal. The sting of sanctions will be painful. These will be the strongest sanctions in history when complete.
Mr Pompeo outlined 12 basic requirements for a new nuclear agreement that could spare Iran from the sanctions, and indicated that Mr Trump prefers any new deal to be a treaty that is ratified by Congress.
Among those requirements are that Iran stops developing ballistic missiles, that it releases Americans held in detention in the country, and that it stop supporting groups in the Middle East considered to be terrorist organisations by the United States.
Is this what you want your country to be known for? Mr Pompeo asked, referring to Irans support of groups like Hezbollah, which the US considered a foreign terrorist organisation. The United States believe you deserve better.
Mr Pompeo described an Iranian regime that is corrupt, and steals from its population while helping support violence across the Middle East. His threat was also phrased as one that could lead to positive outcomes for Iranians.
Unlike the previous administration, we are looking for outcomes that benefit the Iranian people, not just the regime, he said.
Mr Trumps decision to pull the US out of the deal comes as his administration conducts ongoing negotiations with North Korea in an attempt to dismantle its nuclear program. Mr Pompeo has said that those talks which have been in doubt somewhat recently could serve as a template for future Iranian negotiations.
Other signatories on the Iran deal in Europe have signalled that they will remain committed to the deal in the wake of the American’s decision, though it remains unclear how European businesses that have made deals in Iran might navigate reimposed US sanctions on the country.